USA: EL PASO, Texas — Texas lawmakers in Washington are urging President Barack Obama to tour fire damage in the state, but some El Paso residents said he should focus on the issue at hand: immigration. Mr. Obama is expected to arrive in El Paso on Tuesday to discuss immigration only.
“I won’t say that the wildfire is not that important,” said Esmeralda Hernandez, who came to live in El Paso nearly 10 years ago from Mexico. “But I don’t think it’s more important than immigration reform.”
U.S. Republican Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn sent a letter to the President inviting him to tour areas devastated by wild fires. The Senators hope seeing damage firsthand will help the President reconsider his recent denial of the State’s request for a federal disaster declaration.
Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn wrote, “We are hopeful that after seeing this devastation firsthand, you will reconsider your recent denial and provide the State and localities with the vital resources and funding required to fully support their work.”
The Texas Forest Service says it has helped respond to 9,496 fires since Nov. 15, 2010. The blazes have charred 2,293,095 acres.
The TFS is currently helping with three major fires in the state that span 498,494 acres. They are located in Presidio & Jeff Davis Counties, Val Verde County and Kimble County. The TFS says 208 of the states 254 counties are currently under a burn ban. 208 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans.
Many El Paso residents and local immigration advocates were concerned after Mr. Obama failed to mention immigration reform at all on his last visit to El Paso.
Instead, the president arrived at Fort Bliss to thank soldiers for their service in Iraq before returning to Washington D.C., for an Oval Office speech on the end of the combat mission in Iraq. This could visit could be a key factor in trying to secure the Latino vote in the 2012 presidential election, as reported by The Dallas Morning News.
Stay with KFOX-14 for complete coverage concerning President Obama’s visit on Tuesday. The event will not be open to the public.