SAN DIEGO ― It might have been a victory lap. On a foggy Tuesday, President Donald Trump traveled to the desert outdoors of San Diego to go to eight wall prototypes constructed in service of his signature coverage objective: his “huge, lovely” southern border wall. Trump, ever the showman, examined eight contestants in his wall pageant, a contest wherein he hopes to at some point decide a winner. Which one would he decide? Would the followers know earlier than the first-term collection finale?
The go to additionally marked Trump’s first journey to California since successful the presidency. It might have been the right second to troll the state that so forcefully rejects him and his insurance policies.
And it was all going so nicely. Within the hours earlier than Trump’s arrival simply earlier than midday, the handful of pro-wall, pro-Trump rallies round Otay Mesa, the southern San Diego group that backs proper as much as the U.S.-Mexico border, introduced collectively a whole bunch of supporters of the president and his proposed enlargement of the border wall. The gang chanted acquainted Trump rally refrains ―“Construct that wall!” “Lock her up!” ― whereas flying “Make America nice once more” flags.
Shortly after Air Power One touched floor at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, a Trump supporter grabbed the microphone: “Trump has landed!” she shouted. The gang erupted with pleasure. The followers had been prepared for his or her hero. However the thrill rapidly died down.
Then, a automobile drove by and yelled “Fuck Donald Trump!”
As the gang was shaking off the insult, a person in a passing automobile waved a Mexican flag, which fell off his pole and into the road. All of a sudden a bunch of Trump supporters discovered their braveness. They raced to the flag and snatched it up.
“Burn it!” they chanted. They settled for shredding it.
Eventually the motorcade arrived. Trump, flanked by federal and native legislation enforcement, was lastly right here to see his wall prototypes. Inside hours of Trump’s go to, federal authorities had been charging three rural Illinois males ― one in every of whom was a bidder on Trump’s border wall contract ― for the bombing of a Minnesota mosque final 12 months and the tried bombing of a girls’s well being clinic in Illinois.
Touring the location, Trump defined he most popular “see-through” partitions. “You must know what’s on the opposite facet of the wall,” he defined. He’s a fan of taller partitions, arguing a number of the individuals who cross the border are “like skilled mountain climbers.”
“They’re unimaginable climbers,” Trump mentioned. “They will’t climb a few of these partitions. A few of them they’ll. These are the partitions we’re not utilizing.”
In contrast to most of Trump’s marketing campaign guarantees, a lot of which had been drafted in a matter of weeks or months, the promise of a southern border wall has been a part of his coverage platform since he first introduced his candidacy in June 2015. The concept of a newly fortified border wall electrified his base, who’ve gleefully chanted “Construct the wall!” at his rallies. It additionally has change into a rallying cry for racists, center college and teenage bullies, and faculty college students on spring break in Mexico.
“We’ve got a awful wall now,” Trump mentioned Tuesday. “Once we put up the true wall, we’re going to cease 99 p.c [of illegal crossings], perhaps greater than that.”
The price estimates for Trump’s “actual wall” fluctuate wildly. In January, Trump mentioned he needs $25 billion for border safety efforts, together with for his wall. He’s mentioned at numerous factors that he believes the wall could be constructed for $eight billion to as a lot as $12 billion. Senate Democrats have mentioned it might it might be far costlier, nearer to $70 billion. Unbiased analysts have pegged the price at wherever between $15 billion and $40 billion. Trump has lengthy promised that Mexico pays for the wall, no matter the price, whereas Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has rejected these claims.
What is obvious is that Trump’s wall, whether it is truly ever constructed, will symbolize the end result of a long time of hardening of the U.S.-Mexico border zone. All through the 20th century, barbed wire, then fencing, then some commentary towers, then extra fencing have been constructed in and round numerous border cities, ranches and expanses of border land in an try to discourage visitors. By 2006, President George W. Bush ushered within the development of the greater than 650 miles of fencing and boundaries alongside the U.S.-Mexico border that exists right now.
The constructions that now make up the border barrier encompass iron fencing, stretches of auto boundaries and barbed wire, in addition to pure boundaries, such because the Rio Grande. The border fencing has lengthy been stuffed with gaps and stops and begins alongside the best way. The border barrier has been pretty efficient at deterring unlawful crossings. Apprehensions on the southwest border, which symbolize almost 98 p.c of whole unlawful crossings nationwide, fell to only over 300,000 in 2017, lower than one-fifth of the 1.6 million apprehensions in 2000. However the barrier has the destructive impact of pushing weak folks into extra harmful environments, cleaving communities and being worthwhile for human smuggling networks.
Most Individuals seem to have an understanding of this. Quite a few polls have constantly proven that almost all of Individuals oppose the development of a border wall. Furthermore, most consultants and historic report agree that Trump’s wall will not be efficient in securing the southern U.S. border.
Trump, undeterred by these realities, examined the proposed wall slabs for about an hour.
At a smaller gathering overlooking the wall prototypes, a few dozen folks gathered. Carrying Trump gear, they listened to music, held indicators expressing assist for Trump and his wall, and waited for the president to examine the prototypes within the distance. One Trump supporter shouted “President Trump, we love you.” One other chanted, “Construct that wall!”
Trump, a mile or two away, couldn’t hear them. And his supporters couldn’t hear him, both.
Shortly after 1 p.m., Trump was loaded again into his caravan to return to Miramar Air Station. Subsequent up was Los Angeles, the place the president would spend about 4 hours on the non-public residence of a Republican Nationwide Committee fundraiser.
As he headed north, just a few dozen Trump supporters stood on one facet of a road whereas just a few dozen Trump protesters stood on the other facet. They pointed their indicators at one another and waved their flags close to the doorway of a delivery facility the place Trump’s motorcade would drive by. The motorcade was met with the requisite cheers and boos, however that quickly light away.