Politics

Congresswoman Escobar declines invite for Trump visit: 'I refuse to be an accessory'

EL PASO, Texas - Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of El Paso on Tuesday night told ABC-7 she declined an invitation to join President Donald Trump in his motorcade on his upcoming visit, as the city recovers from a mass shooting.

"I declined the invitation because I refuse to be an accessory to his visit," said Escobar. "I refuse to join without a dialogue about the pain his racist and hateful words & actions have caused our community and country."

Trump's visit to El Paso on Wednesday comes after a man opened fire at a shopping center, killing 22 people. A 21-year-old white supremacist is in custody in the domestic terrorism case. In a televised address Monday, Trump called on the nation to "condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy" but stopped short of acknowledging his own divisive and racist rhetoric.

Escobar, who told MSNBC Monday that Trump wasn't welcome in her community, told ABC-7 that she requested a phone call with the President to "share what I have now heard from many constituents" but was told he was "too busy."

"My message would've been that he needs to understand that his words are powerful and have consequences. Using racist language to describe Mexicans, immigrants and other minorities dehumanize us. Those words inflame others," she said.

"I have publicly said he has a responsibility to acknowledge the power of his words, apologize for them, and take them back because they are still hanging over us," Escobar added. "I asked for a call so I could say this to him over the phone and ask for a dialogue that could lead to healing."

Escobar's criticism joins Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso native Beto O'Rourke, who has also urged Trump to not visit the city.

"The things that he has said both as a candidate and then as the President of the United States, this cannot be open for debate," he said.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters at the White House on Monday the purpose of Trump's visit to El Paso is to express his condolences and help provide resources. Trump will also visit Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday, where another mass shooting occurred Sunday that killed 9.

Escobar said Tuesday that during Trump's visit she plans on "spending time with fellow El Pasoans who are dealing with the pain and horror left in the wake of this act of domestic terrorism fueled by hate and racism."


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