Rice expert available to discuss President Trump’s visit to border

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


David Ruth

Amy McCaig

Rice expert available to discuss President Trump’s visit to border

HOUSTON – (Jan. 10, 2019) – As President Donald Trump heads to the U.S.-Mexico border to discuss his controversial plans for the construction of a wall between the countries, Rice University’s Tony Payan, an expert on issues related to immigration and border security, is available to discuss the visit.

U.S. border fence near El Paso Texas that separates the United States from Mexico. Photo credit: 123rf.com.

U.S. border fence near El Paso Texas that separates the United States from Mexico. Photo credit: 123rf.com.

Payan, the Françoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and director of the institute’s Mexico Center, called the president’s Jan. 8 address to the nation about the border “a waste of nine minutes.” He said Trump focused on appealing to his political base instead of attempting to win over people who may be on the fence about the merits of a wall or connect with residents of border communities.

“His speech relied on the same remarks about the need for a border wall he has used since his presidential campaign, including exaggerations and misstatements,” Payan said. “For example, Trump stressed the dangers of drug trafficking in his speech and said the opioid crisis is fueled by drugs that enter the country through the border. He didn’t acknowledge that the vast majority of these drugs enter the country at ports of entry, not in vast stretches between entryways where his proposed wall would be the primary defense.”

Payan also said Trump’s characterization of the border as a dangerous place doesn’t resonate with people living there.

“That may be convincing to people in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, but it’s very difficult to make that case the closer you are to the border,” he said. “We know that in El Paso you can walk around at 3 in the morning, even in the darkest alleys, and you’re fairly safe.”

Payan authored an op-ed on the topic in the Jan. 9 edition of the Houston Chronicle. It is available online at https://bit.ly/2Fm0FZ4.

He is available for phone or email interviews only. To schedule an interview, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777.


This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related materials:

Tony Payan bio: https://www.bakerinstitute.org/experts/tony-payan

Photo link: https://news.rice.edu/files/2019/01/40401852_l-2gr7kio.jpg.

Photo credit: 123rf.com.

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.