EDINBURG, RGV – Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra says he is disappointed President Trump did not agree to have a conversation with local law enforcement officials about border security.

Trump was in the Rio Grande Valley for three hours last Thursday. Flying in and out of McAllen International Airport he had a 45-minute roundtable discussion at a Border Patrol station in McAllen and then a news conference at Anzalduas Park in Mission.

At the last minute, Sheriff Guerra was added to the invitees for the roundtable discussion but he did not get an opportunity to speak.

“The presidential visit last Thursday, I was kind of disappointed that the president did not speak to any local law enforcement officials. We were in the room but we were not allowed to sit at the roundtable,” Guerra said. 

“The only local people in the roundtable discussion were a landowner and a pastor. Everybody else that was there, the president has access to in Washington, D.C.”

Guerra made his comments in an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian and RGV Public Radio 88 FM immediately after he participated in a 45-minute livestream on Facebook with Rio Grande Guardian presenter Mari Regalado. 

In his interview, Guerra said: “The president was here for three hours, I felt he should have made time to speak to some of the local officials. In fact, I was talking to my colleagues in the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition. They were willing to make the trip here to South Texas to have an opportunity to sit down and discuss their concerns. But, he did not give us that opportunity.”

Guerra said it was clear the roundtable discussion was held to “sell” the president’s border wall plans.

“The roundtable was to discuss the border wall. I believe the president is doing everything he can to make sure he gets his border wall and he did not want anybody there, in front of the national press, to tell him that is not needed,” Guerra said.

“But, we were willing to sit down on a roundtable and not have the press in the room. To give him our side, our perspective.”

Guerra said he would have liked to have seen local police chiefs in the roundtable discussion, such as those from McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, Pharr and Weslaco.

“Hopefully, the president will still get the message. I know some of our (Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition) membership will be reaching out to his staff. If they invite us to Washington to discuss our views of border security, we will be there,” Guerra said.

“The president is probably going to agree with some of our views and not others. That is how government works but unfortunately, with the government shutdown, it is my way or no way. I don’t think that is the way to govern.”

Guerra said he disagrees with the president when he says the border is in crisis. He said the issue of border security does not rise to the level of national emergency.

“I do not believe the word crisis should be used to describe what is going on here because we have had this problem going on for decades. People have been trying to come into this country illegally for decades. I would bot call this a crisis,” Guerra said.

“It is not a national emergency, either. However, with that said, I am concerned with border security. It is obvious that the southwestern border of the United States is not secure. It is porous. It brings up a public safety issue for me. It is a national security issue and we also have a human rights issue.”

Editor’s Note: To watch the entire livestream with Rio Grande Guardian presenter Mari Regalado, click here.

Editor’s Note: Mayors and county judges in the Rio Grande Valley were also disappointed they did not get an opportunity to talk to President Trump on his recent visit to the region. Click here to read their comments. The Rio Grande Guardian will be hosting a Facebook livestream conversation with Monica Weisberg-Stewart, who chairs the TBC’s immigration and border security committee, on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 3 p.m.