Some officials downright urged Trump not to visit South Texas fearing it would lead to more violence and disregard for social distancing and masking. The Rio Grande Valley has consistently been one of the areas in Texas hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic recent increase in hospital stays.
“[S]Such a public event could trigger similar behavior and further affect the current severe COVID-19 crisis in Cameron County and the Rio Grande Valley. “Eddie Treviño, Jr., District Judge for neighboring Cameron County, said Tuesday morning.
Trump’s visit marks the first time since the deadly riot at the Capitol that he has appeared in public. Trump told reporters before getting on his plane to the Alamo that he did not want violence and touted the controversial border wall as “a huge difference on the southern border”.
James Darling, Mayor of the neighboring town of McAllen, said He understands “that the emotions are high on both sides”, but also calls for peaceful demonstrations.
“The passions among supporters and opponents of President Trump are dangerously high,” said Richard Cortez, a judge in Hidalgo County, before Trump’s trip to the region. “I urge both sides to keep these passions in check because ultimately the Rio Grande Valley has a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world that peaceful public discourse is far more effective than public violence.”
Still, protesters from across the political spectrum were expected to be in South Texas to express their support for and against Trump.
Members of the Hidalgo County GOP appealed for “all conservatives, patriots and freedom fighters” Facebook and Twitter to welcome Trump to the border area with posters.
LUPE, a nonprofit founded by farm workers and civil rights leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, announced it would hold a rally against Trump and white supremacy. The group criticized local officials for not having a stronger message against Trump’s visit.
“This failure of leadership will now result in white supremacists gathering freely on our streets. We condemn this lack of leadership. Should violence break out on Tuesday, any officials who did nothing to stop this visit will be held responsible for failing to respond to community concerns, “the group wrote in a statement.
While President-elect Joe Biden easily won the Latino-majority county that Trump is visiting, Hidalgo County is one of the areas in South Texas where Trump made his most significant improvements in the 2020 election. Trump increased his numbers there by more than 23 percent compared to 2016, but still lost 17 percent.