Ted Frantz, professor of history, published an opinion piece in The Washington Post for the “Made by History” series, “How the border morphed from a place of possibility to a symbol of fear.”
President Trump’s visit to El Paso last week attracted the hype and circuslike atmosphere one has come to expect from this president: Trump served up a string of falsehoods about border security, a rallygoer assaulted a cameraman and, across town, former Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke headlined an anti-wall march.
Observers said Trump’s decision to appear in El Paso was curious at best. Though he points to the city as evidence of the effectiveness of a border wall in a crime-ridden locale, that claim is false. Violent crime was at a historic low when Congress funded the El Paso wall in 2006. But beyond Trump’s cavalier use of statistics, El Paso is an odd choice for another reason: It used to be the location Republican presidents visited to promote unity, rather than division.