President Donald Trump’s actions and rhetoric regarding immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border have led some South Texas lawmakers to urge him to spend time in the Rio Grande Valley.
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) again asked the president to visit Texas when he met with Trump Monday night for a private White House dinner with a small group of House members.
Gonzalez says he discussed border security, infrastructure, tax reform and the deportation of veterans with the president.
“I was trying to get the president to sign an executive order to stop the deportation of veterans but I had a thorough conversation with him on the issue,” Gonzalez says. “He also agreed that we need to stop the deportation of American veterans and that shouldn’t be happening. It’s refreshing to see that we have common ground at least on that issue.”
Gonzalez says he has drafted a bill to halt the deportation of veterans, which he plans to file in the near future.
Gonzalez is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans in the House, which meets weekly to discuss pieces of legislation they can agree on. He says he suggested members of the group meet with Trump in order to establish a good line of communication with the president.
“I think that by not talking and not having a dialogue with the other side of the aisle, and certainly [with] the president at this time, is just not very productive and effective for my district to get the resources that we’re looking for,” Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez says he invited Trump to visit the Rio Grande Valley so he can speak with residents who would be directly impacted by a border wall. Gonzalez says that a border wall doesn’t make sense and calls it an “antiquated idea.”
“I think Trump knows how to build sky rises in New York City and he knows how to sell apartments and how to be successful running hotels, but managing border security is a completely different subject,” he says. “If you’re just listening to a handful of people you only get those ideas.”
Gonzalez says Trump didn’t explicitly agree to visiting his district, but says at the end of the dinner Trump told him, “I’ll see you in Texas.”
“I hope [Trump] comes down and takes me up on this offer because I think it will be a learning experience,” Gonzalez says.
Written by Molly Smith.