Trump, who triggered a 35-day closure of about a quarter of the federal government with a December demand for $5.7 billion from Congress to help build the wall, said he has yet to decide whether to support the agreement reached on Monday night by key Democratic and Republican lawmakers. This will fund about 55 miles of fencing. "Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities", Trump said. Rodriguez, 46, said he is "not a huge Trump supporter" but agreed to accompany his sister to the rally. He claimed: "That may be the end of his presidential bid". Clarkson, a former deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development in the Trump administration, was among the group invited to greet the president when his plane touched down in El Paso.
Standing in a packed stadium under a giant American flag and banners saying "FINISH THE WALL", Trump insisted that large portions of the project are already under construction and vowed to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise regardless of what happens in Congress.
"As I was walking up to the stage they said that progress is still being made with this committee", the president said.
In a case of pointed political counterprogramming, O'Rourke held an evening march with dozens of local civic, human rights and Hispanic groups, followed by a protest rally attended by thousands on a baseball field across street from the arena where Trump was holding a rally to make his case for the border wall. At various points during his own rally, Trump claimed that 69,000 people had RSVP'd and that fire marshals allowed 10,000 people in with "tens of thousands" still watching outside.
Trump has repeatedly pointed to El Paso to make his case that a border wall is necessary, claiming that barriers turned the city from one of the nation's most risky to one of its safest.
"We need the wall, and it has to be built, and we want to build it fast", he said. "They're full of crap, when they say it hasn't made a big difference", Trump said.
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Trump said people are always telling him he should get a dog because it looks good politically.
At his own rally, O'Rourke slammed the proposed border wall.
"As New Mexicans know, fear-mongering and out-of-touch characterizations of the border do not match the reality on the ground, and the president's simplistic solution - a massive, wasteful wall along the entire southern border - is not a realistic or effective approach to keeping people safe or keeping our nation secure".
In a taped interview with Oprah Winfrey in NY, O'Rourke, 46, appeared to be leaning toward a 2020 campaign for the White House but said he would make his decision after consulting his wife and three children. "We are going to show the country who we are". "The rest of the country could stand to learn a lesson from the way in which the El Paso community engages with people".
"And as we build these walls, 600 miles of the 2,000-mile border walled up and counting, we push them to ever more treacherous and remote stenches of the U.S. -Mexico border thereby ensuring greater suffering and death", he added. "Instead, we welcome them with open arms". There's also funding for "border security", including better technology and increased screening at ports of entry, which is the real source of most drug smuggling. "The Democrat Party has never been more outside of the mainstream", he said.