News Roundup: Legislators Refute President Donald Trump’s Claims About High Crime In El Paso

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelFebruary 7, 2019 2:39 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Lawmakers from El Paso are bristling at President Donald Trump’s upcoming campaign rally in their border city. In his State of the Union speech, Trump falsely described El Paso as one of the most dangerous cities in the country until a wall was built. State Rep. César Blanco is an El Paso Democrat. He describes the rally as a “slap in the face” in an email to Washington Post journalist Bob Moore.

“Ya know, El Paso County was ground zero for his family separation policies. El Paso County and our southern border region is where migrant children have died in custody of his administration, and as demonstrated in the State of the Union, this president is out of touch with reality,” Blanco wrote.

Fellow Democrat and State Rep. Lina Ortega grew up in El Paso. She says she’s not happy about next week’s rally.

“It is disappointing that he’s going to be there just for a campaign stop, and that he’s using it for political reasons and that he tells things that have no basis about our community,” Ortega says.

Democratic State Sen. José Rodriguez of El Paso says he hopes the President uses this trip as an opportunity to learn.

“Obviously we expect that he’ll be talking to the Border Patrol and federal agents, which he should. But he should also take the time to talk to our local sheriff, members of the state delegation, immigration advocates and legal defenders. That’s what he should do to learn more about the reality of the border,” Rodriguez says.

State Rep. Blanco says Trump’s misleading rhetoric about border cities like El Paso is harmful.

“When we as a community are trying to bring in investors and bring in companies to create jobs in our community, these type of narratives hurt us. They hurt our state, they hurt our border communities,” Blanco says.

The rally is set for Monday night.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s pick for the top election official in Texas takes the first step in his confirmation process in a hearing with the state Senate Committee on Nominations Thursday morning.

During the hearing, State Sen. Donna Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican, introduced Texas Secretary of State David Whitley who lives in her district.

“Secretary Whitley has led a distinguished career in public service, including 10 years at the Office of the Attorney General, as well as the Governor’s Office,” Campbell said.

The hearing comes as Whitley faces several lawsuits after his office advised local officials to check whether 95,000 people on their voter rolls were citizens. Since then, thousands on that list have been cleared. Whitley ultimately needs to win a two-thirds vote in the full Texas Senate to keep his job.

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht says the partisan election of judges often denies the judicial system valuable experience. He made the argument Wednesday in a joint session of the Texas House and Senate as part of his State of the Judiciary address. He says no method of judicial selection is perfect, but called partisan elections one of the worst.

“Voters understandably want accountability, and they should have it, but knowing almost nothing about judicial candidates, they end up throwing out very good judges who happen to be on the wrong side of races higher on the ballot,” Hecht said.

Hecht said in last November’s election, the equivalent of seven centuries of judicial experience was voted out.