Former congressman Beto O'Rourke said Thursday that if he had the power, he would take down the border wall separating his home city of El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico.
O'Rourke was asked the question by MSNBC's Chris Hayes, days after Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw posed the question to O'Rourke on Twitter.
"@BetoORourke should answer a simple question tonight with respect to the border debate: If you could snap your fingers and make El Paso's border wall disappear, would you?" Crenshaw wrote. "Because this DHS graph shows that when the wall was built, illegal crossings dropped significantly."
Hayes relayed the question to O'Rourke, who previously represented El Paso in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"If you could, would you take the wall down now? Knock it down?" Hayes asked.
"Yes, absolutely. I would take the wall down," O'Rourke replied, without hesitation.
It's not clear how the residents of El Paso would feel about that decision, but it's probably safe to say many of them would be uncomfortable with the idea of an open border between their city and Juarez. O'Rourke said he believes a referendum to tear down the wall would pass in El Paso.
While many Democrats have framed the border wall debate in terms of abstract conceptions of morality, for the people of El Paso, a wall is a matter of public safety.
More than 1,000 people were murdered in Juarez in 2018, up from 636 in 2017 and 470 in 2016.
The increase in violence in Juarez is attributed to gang conflicts over drug sales and smuggling operations—also two good reasons to have a wall in the city.
As Crenshaw noted in his tweet, illegal border crossings in El Paso decreased significantly once the border wall was constructed.
Things are so bad in Juarez right now that last month the U.S. Consulate in Juarez alerted U.S. personnel to avoid police stations in the city because of a continuing series of coordinated attacks against law enforcement.