President Donald Trump visited McAllen Thursday to continue to make his case for more than $5 billion in funding for a wall on the southern border.
One of the issues that came up during Trump's roundtable discussion with government officials and state lawmakers in McAllen was how to pay for a border barrier from Brownsville to an area just south of Laredo.
“One of the things that (Lt. Governor) Dan Patrick suggested, which I thought was interesting, was give the state of Texas a relatively small amount of money and they’ll build the wall themselves,” Trump said, “and I thought that was not a bad idea, although I still think I could do it cheaper than you.”
Patrick’s office confirmed this exchange.
“The lieutenant governor told the president that if the federal government will reimburse the state for the billions in state funds it has spent on border security, the state would build the wall in the areas where it is needed along more than 1,200 miles of border," said spokeswoman Alejandra Garcia.
When the president arrived at McAllen International Airport, he was met by protesters and supporters. Protestors largely outnumbered those who wanted the president in town.
Rebekah Hinojosa, with the Sierra Club, said Trump’s demand for a wall has put her Rio Grande Valley community on the front line of border militarization and climate change.
“The construction of the border wall would cut through pristine wildlife habitat, like Bentsen State Park, and would also impact a 900-year-old tree, a Montezuma cypress tree near the mission. It would also make us more susceptible to flooding,” Hinojosa said. “The border wall has been known to act as a damn and back up with water.”
Others, like 29-year-old Stevie Luna, said she showed up to let the president know that there is no crisis on the border.
“I’ve lived here all my life. I’m raising a family here,” she said. “My ancestors have been here forever and it’s been safe. It’s one of the most safest places to live. There is no war zone here.”
Avid Trump supporter Anna Navarro, who lives close to the Rio Grande in Mission, about 10 minutes away from McAllen, had a different opinion amongst the vast number of protesters. Navarro said when she’s at home, she’s scared to death most of the time.
“I always get illegal aliens trying to live on my property,” she said. “It’s real scary.”
During the President’s four hour stay on the border, Trump also stopped by the McAllen Border Patrol station, held an immigration and border security roundtable and went down to the Rio Grande for a briefing. At one point, he stopped to sign “Make America Great Again” hats for his supporters, but he was followed by protesters every step of the way.