Trump Should Pay $560K For Border Visit Debt: Texas Judge

When former President Donald Trump visits the U.S.-Mexico border later this month, he should bring along $560,000 to pay off an outstanding debt, according to El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.

Samaniego said Trump owes the city of El Paso that amount for his last trip there during his re-election campaign—a debt the judge claims the ex-president has yet to settle.

Donald Trump El Paso Rally
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum on February 11, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. A judge has asked that Trump pay off the debt he still owes the city for the visit. Getty/Joe Raedle

Trump said on Tuesday that he will travel to the border at the invitation of Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Trump has endorsed the fellow Republican for re-election in 2022, and he recently joined Abbott in criticizing President Joe Biden for his handling of the influx of migrants crossing over into the country from the southern border.

"The Biden administration inherited from me the strongest, safest, and most secure border in U.S. history, and in mere weeks they turned it into the single worst border crisis in U.S. history," Trump said in a statement released on Tuesday. "It's an unmitigated disaster zone."

As Abbott assists the former leader in finding a location along the border to visit, Samaniego told local NBC affiliate KTSM-TV he thinks the governor should also help the city of El Paso "collect the $560,000 that Trump owes from when he was here on his campaign."

"That would be really nice if that's one of the things that we get," Samaniego said, noting "we have been trying to reach out to get the $560,000 from when he had his campaign here."

Trump visited the city on February 11, 2019, during a campaign stop. The rally came less than a week after his State of the Union address, during which he claimed El Paso was one of the country's most dangerous cities until the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed and several miles of barriers were constructed in the border city.

However, FBI statistics showed crime had consistently fallen every year there before the act passed, and the city was generally regarded as one of the safest communities along the border.

Speaking during the 2019 rally in El Paso, Trump told the crowd, "Security should not belong only to the rich and to the powerful. Safety is the birthright of every American, which is why we must finish the wall."

Across the street from Trump's rally at the El Paso County Coliseum that day was a counter-demonstration held by groups opposing his border policy, which featured former Congressman Beto O'Rourke.

The city of El Paso paid for additional security for the then-president, as well as provided transportation for his supporters to their vehicles in off-site parking lots.

According to KTSM-TV, invoices for Trump's 2019 visit to El Paso added up to $470,417.05. Those feeds break down as $6,286.57 owed to the Department of Aviation; $60,630.84 to the Fire Department; $528 to the Health Department, $6,452 to the Streets and Maintenance Department; $15,577.52 to Sun Metro; and $380,942.12 to the Police Department.

An additional collection fee was added to the bill, bringing it to a total of about $560,000, KTSM-TV reported. In a Texas Tribune article in August of 2019, Laura Cruz-Acosta, communications manager for the El Paso city manager's office, said the debt Trump owes the city actually added up to $569,204.63.

In November of 2020, the El Paso City Council voted unanimously to hire the law office of Snapper L. Carr to represent them in an effort to get Trump to pay for the charges incurred during the 2019 visit.