Trump Visits Texas To Autograph His Incomplete Border Wall
Update at 4:30 p.m.
Speaking near Alamo, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, President Donald Trump addressed upcoming attempts to potentially remove him from office during the last eight days of his presidency. Trump called the conversations about impeachment taking place in Congress a hoax and revived claims of being the target of a witch hunt.
"Free speech is under assault like never before. The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration — as the expression goes, 'Be careful what you wish for,'" he said.
Trump’s not taking responsibility for his role in last week’s violence. He referred to the group of his supporters who stormed the capitol last Wednesday as “a mob” — a sharp contrast to statements he made while the insurrection was happening. Then, he told those people “we love you.”
But Democrats and some members of Trump’s own party said the attacks that cost several lives can be traced right back to him and his quest to have the election he lost to Joe Biden overturned.
Trump, however, did win Zapata County in November with about 52% of the vote. It was the first time in a century the county backed a Republican.
“Not only did I win Texas in historic numbers but I won border towns which are largely Hispanic and people were amazed to see that,” Trump said before complimenting Gov. Greg Abbott.
Trump was in the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday to view portions of the border wall constructed during his administration. Building additional miles of wall along the southern border — and making Mexico pay for it — was one of Trump's biggest campaign promises in 2016.
The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan touted last week the completion of about 450 miles of border wall. But only 80 miles of that work includes new wall or fencing in areas where there had not previously been a barrier before, according to CBP.
2/ With $1.375 billion included in the FY 2021 spending bill for a "barrier system," he said they got funding ($16 B) for 800 miles. That includes 450 miles already completed, of which only 80 were new wall or fencing where there had been none before.https://t.co/C61Ukn3O5H— María Méndez (@anxious_maria) January 5, 2021
In his speech Trump praised controversial policies enacted during his tenure like the Migrant Protection Protocol where asylum seekers are required to wait in Mexico while their cases are heard.
Elisa Rivera was one of about 100 Trump supporters waving flags in McAllen.
“We’re here to support our president because we know he supports our Border Patrol because of all the illegal immigration (and) human trafficking,” Rivera said.
She didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but after learning more about Trump’s emphasis on border security the longtime Mission resident voted for him last year.
At a separate rally in San Juan, Alexis Bay of the Texas Civil Rights Project denounced the Trump administration for filing over 200 lawsuits against South Texas landowners for border wall construction in the last year.
“They are shoving the wall down our throats because he’s a sore loser,” said Bay to a crowd of people.
Anti-wall activists called on President-elect Joe Biden to halt all construction on day one of his presidency.
Former presidential candidate Julian Castro told activists he is confident Biden will fulfill his promise, but emphasized the impact of Trump’s presidency.
“The most significant thing about the Trump presidency is not the wall he’s built around us. It’s the wall he’s built between us,” said Castro.
Update at 2 p.m.
President Donald Trump arrived in Alamo, Texas, where he is currently speaking. TPR did not stream his speech.
Members of La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) held a counter-rally in San Juan. Activists from the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo spoke out against Trump’s border wall and highlighted President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign promise of “not another foot” of wall.
Local public officials failed to have a unified strong message against Trump’s visit. This failure of leadership will now result in white supremacists freely rallying in our streets.— La Unión del Pueblo Entero (@LUPE_rgv) January 12, 2021
How is it that @JulianCastro was able to join us, but no local officials?#CancelTrumpRGV pic.twitter.com/gUKQpsU1BE
Update at 1:25 p.m.
President Donald Trump landed at Valley International Airport in Harlingen before departing to Alamo to visit the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Update at 12 p.m.
Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in McAllen, hoping to see him as he makes his way through the Rio Grande Valley today.
Update: I’m at 10th and Bales St. in McAllen. There’s a group of about 50 to 100 ppl. here waving flags in support of Trump. Some cars driving by have honked in support as well. The folks I’ve talked to here say they appreciate Trump’s emphasis on border security. pic.twitter.com/BcYnoFze7s— María Méndez (@anxious_maria) January 12, 2021
About 100 people from the Rio Grande Valley and other South Texas cities waved Trump flags alongside a road barricaded and protected by police. A Trump train, or car caravan of supporters, also drove by with flags and honked at the crowd.
A handful of protestors and Biden supporters also showed up to the site, but no violence or conflict erupted.
Activists against Trump's border wall are holding a counter rally in the nearby city of San Juan at noon.
There are also a handful of Biden supporters here. 17-yo Daniel Zamarripa on the right said he wanted to “show Donald Trump that he’s not welcome here because of the tragedies he’s caused the Rio Grande Valley.” pic.twitter.com/TVHSBuwMCc— María Méndez (@anxious_maria) January 12, 2021
Update at 10:30 a.m.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit the Rio Grande Valley Tuesday to showcase his border wall construction and immigration policies.
Local politicians and activists had called for Trump to cancel the trip amid concerns of violence following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump extremists last week.
His supporters plan to gather for rallies in Harlingen and in McAllen.
“I think that the people that are supporting Trump here in South Texas and mostly everywhere are people that want to demonstrate peacefully just to show President Trump that we still support him,” said Anna Holcomb.
She said she would be driving from Zapata County to McAllen to show her support for Trump.
Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez released a statement asking "both sides" to keep their passions in check.
"The Rio Grande Valley has a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world that peaceful public discourse is far more effective than public violence," the statement said.
He also noted that COVID-19 is the "common and far more dangerous enemy." He asks people who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights to wear face coverings and to be mindful of physical distancing.
Opponents of Trump and his border wall are holding a separate rally at the headquarters of the community union La Union del Pueblo Entero.
Since local officials wouldn't condemn Trump's dangerous visit to the #RGV, and he's not on Twitter these days, we took the liberty of letting him know how the community feels about his presence through other means! @efrencolivares @immigrattorney pic.twitter.com/CsoWZbCX54— Texas Civil Rights Project (@TXCivilRights) January 12, 2021
Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will travel to the Rio Grande Valley and join La Unión Del Pueblo Entero to speak out against Trump's immigration policies implemented under his administration. He and other Democrats called for Trump's removal from office and the resignation of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz since the incident.
South Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar explained to TPR on Saturday that Trump is expected to arrive at Harlingen’s airport and travel to a nearby area to showcase border wall construction. While there is no border wall construction within Alamo, there are projects south of the city.
"I guess in his mind this is the priority, but right now, during a pandemic, he’s got the wrong priority," Cuellar said. "The priorities should be fighting the pandemic, healing the country from what happened last week, but as you can tell, he’s been obsessed with the border wall these last four years."
Cuellar added that not all border wall built under Trump is completely new.
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