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El Pasoans react to their new President

Gaby Velasquez
Michael Divine and Matthew Garcia watch President Trump get sworn in on Jan 20.

From Paragon Lane, where the El Paso Republican headquarters is located, to the protests and resistance at San Jacinto plaza, the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States provoked a wide range of emotions across the nation and here on the border.

Thanks Obama

UTEP’s assistant dean of Extended University, Josie Carmona, experienced a somber feeling on the streets of D.C. when she attended a “Thanks Obama” event on Jan. 19, the night before the inauguration. Carmona participated in a young Democrats poster-making party in Arlington, Virginia, and attended the Women’s March in D.C. the next day.

“I had been here for the previous inauguration and the feeling for this one was very different, it was quiet,” said Carmona.

Although she didn’t agree with all the decisions made under the Obama administration, she felt Obama’s presidency was an important time that united minorities.   

El Paso Republican Headquarters

Down on Paragon Lane, in a room decorated with banners, signs such as “friends don’t let friends vote Democrat” and a small buffet, nearly 40 Republican volunteers and supporters of President Trump gathered at the El Paso GOP headquarters, seated around a projected broadcast of the inauguration.

The room was filled with laughter and jokes, and everyone either seemed to know one another or were happy to introduce themselves. One of the organizers said that they did not expect a large crowd, but as the oath of office drew nearer, more people came in until nearly all the seats were taken.

Matthew Garcia, a Trump supporter, said it all felt surreal, whether someone voted for Trump or not.

“I feel excited, I feel hopeful, I really hope that he delivers on his promises and that he listens to everybody,” Garcia said. “I really do believe him when he says he’s giving the power back to the people, and he means everybody, especially the people like me who are suffering from poverty. I think his message is genuine, I just hope he delivers.”

Mark Dunham, the state Republican executive committee chairman for Senate District 29, said that he felt very confident moving forward. Dunham believes that the Democrats have put themselves in a bind concerning the presidential nominees after passing the so-called “nuclear option” in 2013, which lowered the threshold for confirming presidential nominees for the cabinet.

“I think the last thing anybody should be doing is underestimating what (Trump) can accomplish,” Dunham said.

David Thackston was one of the 38 electors from Texas and represented the 16th district when voting for the next president of the United States.

“I was elected by my peers here at our Republican state convention. The Democrats did the same thing, if Hillary Clinton had carried Texas, I wouldn’t have been the president elector—the Democrats would have had that,” Thackston said. “It feels wonderful.”

Although Thackston feels confident that the people will turn against the Democratic party if politicians do not support President Trump, he believes that Trump should and will work with Democrats.

“It behooves Donald Trump, like Ronald Reagan before him, to reach out to the Democrats and get the votes he needs in the Senate to keep them from filibustering, so things can go through and they can reach his desk and he can sign it,” Thackston said. “Obama did too many things through executive order. The good thing about that is he didn’t need to go through the Senate and the House. The bad thing (for Democrats) is Donald Trump is going to take out a pen and reverse it. I think that most of the things that Donald Trump wants to do, he’s going to do properly, constitutionally through the House, through the Senate and legally as bills, so the next president can’t come in and erase what he did.”


One UTEP group, Convivencia: a Community in Action, decided to steer the conversation back to the community by hosting an open mic, a tabling event and a documentary watch party during the same time the inauguration celebrations were being aired on television.

Students gathered in Centennial Plaza to hear each other’s thoughts on the future of the country, their lives and college careers.

“It’s always important to promote democracy,” said Irasema Coronado, political science professor and a moderator at the open mic. “It’s an opportunity for inclusion.”

Students were able to speak for three minutes each and participate in a supportive environment, where they could exchange ideas and issues that were prevalent to their lives.

The open mic was followed by “Round Tables and Community Connections,” which invited speakers, UTEP and city-based groups to promote their organizations and interact with each other in the Tomas Rivera Conference Center.

Inauguration Protest

The night of the inauguration, a  protest was to be held at San Jacinto Plaza. However, organizer Dustin Kerins said he could not get a marching permit in time.

Kerins, who set a time and place for the Sun City to express their thoughts and feelings to the world, had planned to start the protest at 6 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. However, the event did not go as expected as few faces made their way downtown that night. Kerins started planning the event less than a day before the starting time and many of the anticipated supporters were in meetings during the protest.

His goal was to give El Paso a platform to say how they feel in a safe manner since many people have been affected by Trump’s racism, sexism and rude remarks.

“We set this up to show solidarity to people that don’t feel safe due to recent political events. A lot of people feel more marginalized because of the Trump administration,” Kerins said. “I would love people to come together and organize with each other so that we can be more local and active in local elections.”

Women’s March On the Border

The next day, on Saturday, Jan. 21, thousands filled the streets of downtown for the Women’s March on the Border.

“The election season left a lot of us pretty disheartened about our government, especially after the inauguration. Some of us are still fearful that the rights that have been protected, especially women’s reproductive rights, will possibly come to a halt,” said UTEP nursing alumna Bianca Ortiz

Gabrielle Mendoza, a junior sociology and women’s studies double major, did not want to simply sit down and accept the election results.

“I’m a very strong advocate for women’s bodily rights and it’s just really important to me that nobody can tell me what my body can or can’t do, or what I can do with my body,” Mendoza said.

El Paso was one of over 600 cities around the world to stand with women’s equality on Saturday. The crowd in the streets of downtown expressed solidarity not just with women, but with the LGBT community, immigrants and minorities.

Women’s March On Washington

It is estimated anywhere from 500,000 to one million people attended the Women’s March on Washington in D.C.

“As soon as I learned there was going to be a march I knew I had to be there,” said UTEP director of Women’s Gender Studies, Guillermina Núñez-Mchiri. “I just felt like this is something I have to be part of, I have to stand up, because I was really shocked at the election results to say the least. I just didn’t see how this was possible.”

After making connections and aligning efforts with friends, Nuñez figured out how to get to the march. Although the streets were packed and the metro was crowded, she says the experience was worth it.

“When you’re standing in a mass of people, I think the takeaway was being in solidarity,” Nuñez said. “What it was, it was a mandate on his first day of office that women’s voices needed to be heard.”

She describes the march as a multi-ethnic, interfaith and multi-generation event.

“I was just overwhelmed by the kindness. Nobody was being rude or mean. We all knew we were there to fight the rudeness,” Nuñez said.

Member of the UTEP College Republicans, sophomore Italia Solis said she believes women have a right to equal pay, but not to reproductive rights.

“We stand with the pro-life movement. As conservatives, we do believe in the freedom of speech and the right to protest, but do not stand with the protesters who condemn our president,” said Solis. “We do not stand with the riots that are being passed off as protests.”

Nuñez carried the DREAMers banner Beto O’Rourke’s office put together, where hundreds of supporters signed it in support of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who have gotten their education here.

“I have students who are dreamers, I have students who come to my office and say ‘we don’t know what’s going to happen, we just want to know we’re not alone,’” she said.

Nuñez says she’s come too far to just sit back and let someone take away her rights and tells her students to stand up and speak out and that they do not need to apologize for being different.

“Not everyone’s going to look like you,” Nuñez said. “Not everyone’s going to think like you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have rights.”

Read more on these events at

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About the Contributors
Michaela Román
Michaela Román, Editor-in-Chief
Michaela is a Senior Digital Media Production major at The University of Texas at El Paso. As the Editor-in-Chief, and former Photo Editor of The Prospector, she has learned to stay organized, manage a staff of writers and photographers, meet deadlines, cover events and network with others. She also has freelance experience and a personal photography business. Michaela aspires to work as an editor for a large media outlet and one day go to graduate school to teach photojournalism.
Christian Vasquez, Web Editor
Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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El Pasoans react to their new President