By: The County Reporter
Common sense dictated that polarizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s visit to Laredo, Texas, on July 23, 2015, would not be void of controversy and the billionaire mogul’s “tour of the border” did not disappoint. Trouble bubbled early after Trump’s initial host, the National Border Patrol Council Local 2455, got cold feet and reneged on their invite.
Local 2455 released a statement that, after communications with members of the National Border Patrol Council at the National Level and “careful consideration of all the factors involved in this event,” the organization decided to “pull out of all events involving Donald Trump.” The statement further added that the intentions of Local 2455 was to provide a “Boots on the Ground perspective” to the presidential hopeful and all the media involved. The organization further clarified that “an endorsement was never discussed” and that “Local 2455 does not endorse candidates for any political office.”
Trump’s incendiary comments about Mexicans and immigration have sent many Latinos into an uproar. When Trump arrived, protesters from Mexico, Laredo, and other areas in South Texas were present to show their disdain for his characterization that the Mexicans coming to this country illegally are mostly criminals and “rapists.” His assertion implicates the Mexican government as “sending” this element out of their country and into the United States.
Trump offered little-to-no information on actual policies he intends to push if elected outside of building a fence between the two countries. The candidate added that he would get Mexico to “pay” for the construction of this fence but did not say how he intended to accomplish this.
Trump had been greeted by Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, newly-appointed City Manager Jesus Olivarez and Council Members Alex Perez and Juan Narvaez. Considering the sentiments towards Trump from Latinos at large, the fact that these Hispanic city leaders appeared star struck in the presence of the Republican candidate – with no indication that any of them challenged Trump’s assertions – led to some quick backlash from both local and national Hispanic leaders.
United States Congressman Joaquin Castro (San Antonio, TX) tweeted the following: “@MayorPeteSanez Donald Trump just used you and the other councilmembers to make him look good. Embarrassing for South Texas and Hispanics.”
Laredo Council Member Roque Vela Jr. (District 5) shared on Facebook that he was disappointed with how city officials “came off with this whole Donald Trump fiasco.” Vela Jr. took issue with the perception that a “message” was sent to the country that Laredo city leaders “agree” with Trump’s views on immigration. The council member added that he would have liked to have seen city officials “call [Trump] out in a classy manner.” Vela Jr. further stated that after meeting with city officials the day before, “I was under the impression that the city was going to have little-to-no involvement in this fiasco.”
Laredo’s own United States Congressman Henry Cuellar (Democrat) was not present during Trump’s visit. Considering the criticism bolstered by a fellow U.S. Congressman, Cuellar was approached for comment. Congressman Cuellar stated, “Both Mayor Saenz and Congressman Castro are good friends of mine and I respect their point of views. I have very publicly stated that I do not agree with Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants. I do not agree with Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants. National crime statistics clearly show that the border is far safer than every large county in Texas and even exponentially safer than New York City. We are all entitled to our own opinion, but not our own facts. Laredo and the border are safe for families and businesses.”
The question: What is your take of these Laredo City leaders? Do you agree with Congressman Castro and Council Member Vela Jr.?