In less than a day, activists from El Paso raised enough money to transport the mocking Donald Trump baby blimp to the Texas city in time for the president’s first campaign rally of the year on Monday, which is expected to center on his demand for border wall funding.
The “Baby Trump Does El Paso” GoFundMe page had $4,086 as of Friday, easily meeting a $3,500 goal. Extra funds will be donated to the Annunciation House in El Paso, a nonprofit that provides support to immigrants.
The GoFundMe campaign’s organizer, Laura Valdez, noted in a post that the blimp was “already on its way” from California.
The president’s welcome to the city may be a bit chilly in several ways. El Paso officials are furious that Trump falsely characterized their city as “one of the most dangerous in the nation” before a border barrier went up. In fact, contrary to Trump’s State of the Union slam, El Paso has been one of America’s safest cities for decades. The border barrier wasn’t constructed until 2008.
“It is sad to hear President Trump state falsehoods about El Paso in an attempt to justify the building of a 2,000-mile wall,” said Sheriff Richard Wiles.
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) sent Trump a letter Thursday demanding an apology for his State of the Union statements. She attacked the president’s “outright lies” and “cheap attempts to use our community as a political prop.”
In another border development, Escobar and other elected officials are demanding that federal workers stop force-feeding 11 incarcerated immigrants who are on a hunger strike in El Paso. Force-feeding inmates may be a violation of the U.N. Convention Against Torture that the United States ratified in 1992, a spokeswoman for the Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights told The Associated Press.
The day of Trump’s appearance, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, is leading a protest march in his hometown with members of dozens of local organizations. He’ll speak at the “Celebration of El Paso” rally at Chalio Acosta Sports Center as Trump delivers his address at the El Paso County Coliseum just north of the Mexican border, ABC-7 RV reported.
O’Rourke told The Washington Post that Trump’s lies about the safety of El Paso are a “racist” tactic to spread fear to get his wall built.
Trump’s campaign manager tweeted that the president’s rally will be held “less than 1000 feet from the successful border fence that keeps El Paso safe!”
Trump won just 25.7 percent of the 2016 presidential vote in El Paso County, the worst performance on record for a major party presidential nominee in the region, according to the Post.