El Paso

D.C. Lawmakers visit El Paso and the Borderland

DC lawmakers visting El Paso and...

EL PASO, Texas - There's been an increase in visits to the Borderland by lawmakers since President Trump took office, although the focus of the trips is not always what local lawmakers want it to be.

ABC-7 was able to confirm Friday that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was in town last weekend touring the border with Border Patrol officials. El Paso Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D - El Paso) wasn't invited, but did drop in on another visit by three senators.

O'Rourke told ABC-7 "I don't know" when asked why the secrecy over Ryan's visit.

ABC-7 was able to confirm Ryan was in town through Robert Palacios, Vice President of Communications at Borderplex Alliance.

"Our CEO, Jon Barela, met with Speaker Paul Ryan, which occurred here last weekend," Palacios said. "(Barela) got to bring the message of the border to Speaker Ryan. He was able to push back on some of the possible Trump policies that have been talked about, like the border tax. He dispelled a lot of myths and advocated for the border."

O'Rourke said "unfortunately" much of the focus of these quick tours of the border are on law enforcement, security concerns and where more walls are needed along the border, instead of the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.

"I hijacked a meeting," O'Rourke admitted. "Three democratic members of the Senate were in El Paso. I found out they were going to be at mile marker No. 1 with the border patrol. I joined their meeting as they were hearing about security issues."    

O'Rourke said he told those three senators: "Here's how this region changed, here's what connects us, here's what makes this place so special and why we don't want another wall right here. In their press conference afterwards, they reiterated some of those points so in some small way I thought we were successful."

Ryan has been tasked with trying to pass legislation to fund the border wall.

"I'm glad they are looking at security issues," O'Rourke said, "but there is so much more to the dynamic of the U.S./Mexico relationship, to El Paso/Juarez and we need all that included in the conversation."

ABC-7 reached out to Border Patrol Friday with a list of questions about these lawmaker visits, including how many they've had recently and what the tours consist of exactly. As of deadline, ABC-7 was still waiting for a reply.

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