Edinburg to host Trump town hall with Abbott

Former President Donald Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott are set to visit Edinburg on Wednesday to participate in a town hall hosted by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, according to sources and invitations sent from the governor’s office. 

Some local leaders, including the Hidalgo County judge and the mayor of Edinburg, have yet to be invited, however.

Leading up to news of Trump’s visit, Abbott’s office had previously confirmed the former president would be visiting Texas Wednesday, June 30.

Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed the governor will be arriving at South Texas International Airport in Edinburg on the same date to hold a news conference related to border issues.

According to the town hall invitation, which was shared with The Monitor, the event is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. at the DPS hangar located in the South Texas International Airport.

The border will be the topic of the discussion between the governor and former president.

The visit follows Abbott’s aggressive approach to border security and criticism of the Biden administration’s immigration policies, having signed a proclamation that declared a state of disaster in 34 counties on May 31.

Later, Abbott specified plans that included instructing DPS troopers to charge and arrest migrants who cross the border and trespass or damage private property along the way. The charges could lead to a six month incarceration at county and state jails.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez was a critic of the plan from the onset, though leaders from Starr and Cameron counties have voiced similar opposition.  

“I’m sure that I won’t be invited,” Cortez said. So far, an invitation has not been extended to his office. 

Leaders in Edinburg were not invited either. 

“We have been informed about a potential visit from Gov. Abbott, but at this time we have no confirmed details about what requests, if any, will be made of the city,” Ashly Custer, Edinburg’s director of communications and media, said. 

Several local law enforcement leaders who spoke to The Monitor said they had not received invitations. Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said he received an invitation sent to him through his association with South Texans’ Property Rights Association, not in his capacity as a county official. 

Guerra said he won’t be attending, due to a prior commitment with the Texas Police Association. 

Hidalgo County Republican Party Chair Adrienne Peña-Garza, who said she was invited by a friend, is planning to attend.

“I’m really excited about it. I think that when we can bring attention to our area, it helps both sides of the political aisle,” Peña-Garza said.

Last year, the GOP made some significant gains in voting booths across the Valley. Many at the time felt the party’s influence grew due to neglect by Democratic officials overly confident in the Valley being traditionally Democratic.

Although next week’s visit is coordinated by the governor’s office, the event has political undertones. 

Trump recently endorsed Abbott for reelection. On June 1, the governor shared a statement via Twitter that read, “I thank President Trump for his leadership, and I will continue to fight for the values that make Texas the greatest state in America.”

Peña-Garza viewed the town hall with a former president and current governor as outreach.

“I think a lot of the time we do feel somewhat disconnected from the rest of the country and from the state. So, when they’re coming to our community, this is a wonderful thing,” she said.

Immigrant advocates in the Valley view the governor’s policies as an affront to their values.

“Since Abbott announced his border wall and family separations plans, we’ve urged Hidalgo County Judge Cortez to be the leader our region needs and draw the line to stop the governor from causing harm,” Dani Marrero Hi, La Union del Pueblo Entero’s director of advocacy and communications, said Wednesday. “It’s shameful that the elected leaders in our region are unwilling to defend our rights and values. This is our home, not a political playground.”

Last week, members of LUPE, ARISE and the Texas Civil Rights Project voiced their concerns to the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court. They worry the governor’s policies could result in family separations and felt the $1 billion set aside to carry out a border enforcement plan could be better spent on projects benefiting the community.

Cortez listened to their concerns and has yet to declare a state of disaster in Hidalgo County as a result of the border challenges.

“If all I’m going to hear is a biased position, that’s not going to solve the problem,” the judge said, referring to the town hall. “To me, I welcome anybody coming here that’s going to help us solve the problem.”