Monday evening, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared a pro-border wall opinion piece on Twitter and this comment
: "Ask El Paso, Texas (now one of America's safest cities) across the border from Juarez, Mexico (one of the world's most dangerous) if a wall works."
El Paso replied.
"Walls have nothing to do with it," El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke tweeted back
, less than an hour after Sanders' message. "We’ve been ranked 1st, 2nd or 3rd safest city for last 20 years, including before any wall. In addition to great law enforcement, our safety is connected to the fact that we are a city of immigrants. We treat each other with respect & dignity."
El Paso native O'Rourke, the Democrat running against Senator Ted Cruz in 2018's Senate race, has often credited the strong relationship between El Paso and Juárez's law enforcement agencies for keeping the multi-state community safe.
Sanders may have been referencing the Juárez of 2010 in her tweet. That's when the city's cartel-related violence reached jaw-dropping heights with 3,057 murders in one year. Five years later, that number had dropped to 312, making the Mexico city safer than Baltimore or New Orleans. Hell, even Pope Francis believed it was safe
enough to visit in 2016. In 2011, Juarez was ranked the second most dangerous city in the world by a Mexican criminal justice think tank. In 2017, it had dropped to 37th.
O'Rourke's response to Sanders compelled other El Pasoans to chime in on Twitter:
“El Paso has long been one of the country’s safest cities," Jon Barela, CEO of Borderplex (a nonprofit supporting the local cross-border economy) told the Times. "That safety record long predates the construction of the fence along the Rio Grande."
State Rep. Cesar Blanco, who represents El Paso, told the Times: “At the end of the day, it’s people that keep communities safe, not physical barriers.”
“We are a binational community in El Paso and Juárez,” he said. “We are interconnected, regardless of the situation in Mexico. We are interconnected by trade, interconnected by business and, I think most importantly, interconnected by culture."