- The mayor of McAllen, Texas, where President Donald Trump visited on Thursday as part of his push for a border wall, does not agree with the president when it comes to border security.
- “A wall is really not the effective way to protect our border,” Mayor Jim Darling said.
- McAllen, a city of roughly 142,000 people that’s located along the Rio Grande, has a strong economic relationship with the Mexican border city of Reynosa right across the river.
- Darling said a wall would make life difficult for his city’s residents and the cost would outweigh the benefits.
The mayor of McAllen, Texas, the border city President Donald Trump visited on Thursday as part of his push for a border wall, is not on the same page as the president when it comes to immigration and border security.
Mayor Jim Darling is not completely opposed to physical barriers along the US-Mexico border, but he doesn’t see a wall as a realistic solution to the variety of issues the US faces in terms of immigration.
Darling has been getting a lot of media attention in relation to Trump’s big visit and the ongoing debate on immigration in Washington, and he’s repeatedly made it clear he doesn’t believe the president’s border-wall plan is the way forward.
“We know where our border is, and we have one,” Darling told Texas Standard. “A wall is really not the effective way to protect our border.”
In a separate interview with NPR, on January 6, Darling expanded on his views.
“In certain locations, a wall or a fence or some deterrent makes sense but certainly not one across the great swath of the border in places where, ecologically, the damage would be much greater than a security benefit,” he said. “So it’s really a political football, I think. And just saying we’re going to build this great wall across the whole border makes no sense at all.”
“I think there’s a misconception that the wall will solve the major problem of what is conceived as a crisis on the border,” says Jim Darling, mayor of McAllen, Texas, who will greet President Trump as he visits the southern border tomorrow. https://t.co/hp9sVGWGw8 pic.twitter.com/SkPEakXXUC
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) January 9, 2019
Darling thinks lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to come together to work toward immigration reform while agreeing on a budget that provides for more than fencing, but not a wall. He also thinks the US needs to help Mexico focus on reducing the amount of money and influence the drug cartels have, and that Border Patrol needs more support and social workers to help with the influx of asylum seekers.
McAllen, a city of roughly 142,000 people that’s located along the Rio Grande, has a strong economic relationship with the Mexican border city of Reynosa right across the river. Darling told Reuters a wall would make daily life difficult in this regard.
“We have tens of thousands of people go back and forth every day,” Darling said. “You can’t just shut this place down.”
Darling hopes that Trump’s visit to McAllen will help him see that a wall is not a viable option.
“We think it’s an honor to have the President visit,” Darling told Fox 26 News. “We know he’s here for business and everything, but we’re excited as a community to welcome the President.”
The McAllen mayor added, “We want him to see what the wall looks like and the river and the challenges of building a wall to provide protection.”
Trump is spending all of 3 hours in McAllen, TX today. I visited McAllen in 2018 and found a quiet town that welcomes immigrants, a mayor who doesn't see the need for a wall & who thinks the real crisis is the plight of asylum seekers from Central America. pic.twitter.com/OvPeRgTp5H
— Versha Sharma (@versharma) January 10, 2019
Darling is not the only elected official in Texas who questions the logic surrounding Trump’s push for a wall. Republican Rep. Will Hurd, who represents more of the southern border than any of his colleagues in the House of Representatives, is also opposed to building a wall.
Hurd, a former undercover CIA agent, believes a technological approach to border security would be more feasible and appropriate. The Texas congressman has proposed a plan that would involve the use of drones and other surveillance technology to boost security.
But, in spite of concerns from Texas politicians who represent people along the border, Trump appears unwilling to budge on the issue of the wall.
“They say a wall is medieval,” Trump said, during his visit to McAllen on Thursday. “Well, so is a wheel. There are some things that work, you know what? A wheel works, and a wall works.”
His obsession with building the wall, which dates back to his 2016 presidential campaign, has pushed the government into a partial shutdown that has lasted for more than two weeks.