RNC chairwoman in Valley to scold Biden’s El Paso visit

McDaniel said ‘we wanted to make sure that we don’t forget this part of the state and allow him to do a photo op in El Paso’

“Two hours in El Paso is not solving any real problems.” 

So said Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who visited the border wall in Mission on Sunday afternoon, where she expressed dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden’s first visit to the border in West Texas.

McDaniel’s visit to the Rio Grande Valley coincided with Biden’s stop in El Paso where he traveled with a congressional delegation, including Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

El Paso saw a marked increase in the number of people entering the U.S. through its border at the end of the year, surpassing the number of people encountered in the Valley. 

The Valley, however, has seen the highest number of border apprehensions since 2012 — until last year.

Democratic leaders have also asked the president to visit the Valley, including Cuellar and Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez, who extended an invitation in November.

“Let’s remind everybody that we’re in McAllen, Texas and the Rio Grande Valley where so much of this is happening and President Biden has still never been here,” McDaniel said. “So, we wanted to make sure that we don’t forget this part of the state and allow him to do a photo op in El Paso.”

The outcries echoed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s statement shared on Sunday. 

“If President Biden seriously wants to address the crisis his administration created, he needs to visit McAllen, Eagle Pass, Del Rio, and Laredo, and talk to the communities ravaged by crime, the ranchers who find bodies on their land, the Border Patrol who are overwhelmed, and the families who have lost loved ones due to cross-border drug trafficking,” the statement read in part.

A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle passes through the border wall Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Mission. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

During her visit, McDaniel met with former U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores for District 34 and former Republican candidate for Texas House District 39, Jimmie Garcia; and other community members who attended the brief news conference near the gaps between a border wall across from a popular Winter Texan outdoor bar.

“If Biden would come down here and walk the streets of our community, see our problems, they would know that we do have a problem down here,” Garcia said. “We need all the help we can get down here.”

McDaniel said she supports closing the gaps in the border wall and increasing funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

After the chaotic and protracted vote for House speaker that resulted with Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives, McDaniel believes some of those ideas may come to fruition.

“Now we have the reins of the House and Kevin McCarthy has said we’re going to fix our border and they’re going to hold the Biden administration accountable,” the chairwoman said.

McDaniel also expressed enthusiasm over the inclusion of U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, the Republican congresswoman for District 15 and a new voice for South Texans, whose attendance was expected but ultimately canceled by the unforeseen drawn out vote for House speaker.

De La Cruz is the first Republican and woman to represent South Texas’ District 15 in Congress since its creation more than 100 years ago.

“She’ll be able to really paint for the American people what the people in the Rio Grande Valley are seeing every single day,” McDaniel said. “We need more Border Patrol agents, and that takes money. And the only way you’re going to get the American people to understand it is to shine a light on it.”

To see more, view Monitor photojournalist Joel Martinez’s full photo gallery here: 

Photo Gallery: RNC chairwoman in Valley to scold Biden’s El Paso visit