SAN DIEGO – If Donald Trump will visit San Diego to examine the prototypes of the wall, the president will be landing in the largest city on the U.S.-mexico border, and a formal objection against his plan.
Numerous rallies are planned by groups, both for-and-against Trump and his building of a “large, beautiful wall” between the two countries. Trump takes his first visit to the city since Tuesday, is elected. Protests are also planned across the border in Tijuana, Mexico.
The organizers on both sides were urging people to remain calm following the recent skirmishes at rallies in Southern California, including brawling at a Dec. 9 rally in the vicinity of where the prototypes are.
In San Diego on Monday, immigrant activists, church leaders and elected officials held a press conference in the historic “Chicano” Park to call for demonstrations to show border communities do not get the support of a wall. Standing in front of the murals of the Mexican revolutionaries, they chanted “We reject your hate! We don’t need your racist wall!”
“It is really important that as a region, as a city, which from the first-hand insight into what the wall means for our community, that we are against (this) and we can send a strong message to DC saying that this is something that we are not welcome,” City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez said Monday.
Gomez co-sponsored a resolution that was adopted by the San Diego City Council in 2017 against the wall, calling it harmful for the city, environment and tourism. It is also expressed in the city’s intention to transfer one of the companies involved in the construction, the financing and the design of the wall.
Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer has no support for the resolution, but also does not veto. The mayor’s office said Faulconer is clearly in opposition to the walls along the border, but he did not want to blacklist companies involved in the construction of the prototypes.
“Some people look at the AMERICAN-mexican border, they see division,” Faulconer said in his state of the city address in 2017. “But here in San Diego, we see it very different. In place of the border to divide us, we build bridges that connect us.”
Jeff Schwilk, founder of San Diegans for Secure Borders, which the group participated in the rally in December in the neighborhood of the prototypes that ended in clashes with counter-protesters, said that the city council resolution does not reflect the views of many residents, who feel that the border is not secure. He said his organization respects the freedom of speech and hopes Tuesday’s rally will be safe for the participants.
“We absolutely want President Trump to feel welcome and to inspect the prototypes, so that we can get the wall built,” he said.
Trump on Tuesday is expected to be briefed on the lessons learned from the prototypes’ construction and meet the border agents and officers to ask what they need, said Jonathan Hoffman, a Homeland Security spokesman.
The president is determined to fulfil his campaign promise and will not be affected by California Republican legislators cover on the wall is a waste of money, the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.
“The president campaigned on this, he talked about it extensively and he is the president and this is something that he does not plan to back away from,” she said. “It is something that he will continue to press for.”
She refused to say whether Trump would pick a winning prototype during his visit.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday invited Trump to also visit the state of the high-speed rail construction projects.
“You see, in California we are focusing on bridges, not walls,” Brown, a Democrat, said in a letter to Trump.
Trump’s visit comes just days after his Department of Justice sued to block the California laws designed to protect the people in the U.S. illegally, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, followed by a speech in Sacramento that was immediately denounced by Brown, who said that the Trump administration was full of liars.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has called the Trump administration more than two dozen times in the past year, said that he hopes that the president will take away lessons about the state of the economic strength of the strict gun laws and the environmental focus of his visit.
And he vowed to keep fighting against the attempt to “send us backwards.”
Ronayne reported from Sacramento. John Antczak in Los Angeles, Elliot Balancing in San Diego, and Nancy Benac in Washington contributed to this report.