‘Real wall’ stops 99% of il­le­gals, Trump pre­dicts

Cal­i­for­nia’s sanc­tu­ary cities as­sailed dur­ing bor­der visit


SAN DIEGO — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day in­spected eight tow­er­ing pro­to­types for his long­sought wall at the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der and ac­cused Cal­i­for­nia of putting “the en­tire na­tion at risk” by re­fus­ing to take tough ac­tion against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Trump, mak­ing his first trip to Cal­i­for­nia as pres­i­dent, said he pre­ferred a fully con­crete wall be­cause it was the hard­est to climb, but he noted that it needed to be see-through. He said the first thing he no­ticed on the drive to the bor­der was the patched-up holes in part of the ex­ist­ing fence.

“We have a lousy wall over here now, but at least it stops 90, 95 per­cent,” Trump said. “When we put up the real wall, we’re go­ing to stop 99 per­cent. Maybe more than that.”

Trump’s visit was greeted with peace­ful protests by de­mon­stra­tors both for and against his planned wall. The trip came the bat­tle es­ca­lates be­tween his ad­min­is­tra­tion and the lib­eral state, which has re­fused to help fed­eral agents de­tain some il­le­gal


The pres­i­dent re­newed his crit­i­cism of Demo­cratic Gov. Jerry Brown, say­ing Tues­day that he was pre­sid­ing over sky-high tax rates and that the state’s so-called sanc­tu­ary poli­cies “put the en­tire na­tion at risk.”

“They’re the best friend of the crim­i­nal,” Trump said. “That’s what ex­actly is hap­pen­ing. The crim­i­nals take refuge in these sanc­tu­ary cities and it’s very dan­ger­ous for our po­lice and en­force­ment folks.”

The Jus­tice De­part­ment last week sued to block a trio of Cal­i­for­nia laws de­signed to pro­tect peo­ple liv­ing in the U.S. il­le­gally. Brown ac­cused U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions of “go­ing to war” with Cal­i­for­nia to ap­pease Trump.

Af­ter leav­ing the bor­der, Trump basked in the cheers of U.S. Marines in Mi­ra­mar, point­ing to his work to build up the na­tion’s mil­i­tary. He also sug­gested there may some­day be a “space force” fight­ing along­side the na­tion’s mil­i­tary branches.

Re­fer­ring to his 2016 elec­tion vic­tory over Hil­lary Clin­ton — who re­ceived 4 mil­lion more votes than Trump in Cal­i­for­nia — the pres­i­dent vowed that “very soon we’re go­ing to Mars” and the na­tion would not be seek­ing to ex­plore the red planet had his op­po­nent won.

Trump later at­tended a high-dol­lar fundraiser near Los An­ge­les, where he was to stay overnight. Guests paid up to $250,000 to at­tend the event at the Bev­erly Hills home of Ed Glazer, co-chair­man of the Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers. The money raised will go to a joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tee that ben­e­fits Trump’s 2020 re-elec­tion cam­paign and the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

A few hun­dred protesters for and against Trump faced off at a Bev­erly Hills park. A group of pro-im­mi­gra­tion de­mon­stra­tors chanted, “Say it now, say it clear, im­mi­grants are wel­come here.”

Demon­stra­tions were also held at the San Ysidro port of en­try in San Diego, the na­tion’s busiest bor­der cross­ing, where protesters chanted, “No ban! No wall!” as honk­ing cars and buses cheered them on. Protests were also held on the Mex­i­can side, in Ti­juana.

At San Ysidro, Jose Gon­za­lez, 21, stopped to snap a photo of the protesters hold­ing signs, in­clud­ing one that read: “Wall off Putin!” in ref­er­ence to Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, whose ad­min­is­tra­tion in­ter­fered in the 2016 elec­tion to help Trump win, U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have re­ported.

“I don’t think it’s re­ally fair how he has the choice to sep­a­rate us,” said Gon­za­lez, a dual cit­i­zen who lives in Ti­juana and crosses the bor­der daily to work at a San Diego ra­men restau­rant.

Army vet­eran Mark Pri­eto, 48, shook his head as he walked by the protest.

“Peo­ple are so nar­row-minded,” the River­side fire­fighter said as the crowd chanted. “Fi­nally we have some­one who is putting Amer­ica first.”

His wife, Co­rina Pri­eto, a nurse who has ex­tended fam­ily in Mex­ico, agreed. Both voted for Trump.

“I think he is do­ing a lot of good, like pro­tect­ing our Bor­der Pa­trol,” she said.

Trump was to be briefed on les­sons learned from the con­struc­tion of the pro­to­types built in San Diego last fall. He was also to meet with bor­der agents and of­fi­cers to ask what they need, Home­land Se­cu­rity spokesman Jonathan Hoff­man said.

San Diego’s Repub­li­can mayor, writ­ing in The San Diego Union-Tri­bune, crit­i­cized Trump’s planned short visit, say­ing the pres­i­dent won’t get a full pic­ture of the city. Kevin Faulconer said a pop­u­lar cross-bor­der air­port ter­mi­nal con­nect­ing San Diego and Ti­juana shows that “build­ing bridges has worked won­ders.”

On Mon­day, Brown sent Trump a back­handed in­vi­ta­tion sug­gest­ing a change of itin­er­ary to add a visit to a con­struc­tion site for what he said is the na­tion’s first true high­speed rail line. “In Cal­i­for­nia we are fo­cus­ing on bridges, not walls,” Brown wrote.

Brown’s gov­ern­ment and en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cacy groups have sued to block con­struc­tion of the bor­der wall, claim­ing that the ad­min­is­tra­tion acted il­le­gally when it waived cer­tain en­vi­ron­men­tal rules.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Gon­zalo Curiel, whom Trump at­tacked dur­ing his 2016 cam­paign, said in an ini­tial rul­ing last month that the ad­min­is­tra­tion had le­gal au­thor­ity to pro­ceed with the project.

The In­di­ana-born Curiel presided over a class-ac­tion law­suit con­cern­ing stu­dents who said they had been de­frauded by Trump Univer­sity. Trump said Curiel couldn’t be im­par­tial be­cause he was a “Mex­i­can.”

Trump tweeted about Cal­i­for­nia’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies as he flew to the state aboard Air Force One.

“Cal­i­for­nia’s sanc­tu­ary poli­cies

are il­le­gal and un­con­sti­tu­tional and put the safety and se­cu­rity of our en­tire na­tion at risk. Thou­sands of dan­ger­ous & vi­o­lent crim­i­nal aliens are re­leased as a re­sult of sanc­tu­ary poli­cies, set free to prey on in­no­cent Amer­i­cans. THIS MUST STOP!” he wrote.


The wall is one of the last ma­jor stick­ing points in ne­go­ti­a­tions over fund­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for the re­main­der of the year once a stop­gap spend­ing bill ex­pires March 23. Law­mak­ers haven’t de­cided what to do about it.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said Trump is de­ter­mined to press for the project.

“The pres­i­dent cam­paigned on this, he talked about it ex­ten­sively,” San­ders said in a Mon­day brief­ing. “This is some­thing that he is not go­ing to back away from and some­thing that he’s go­ing to con­tinue to push for.”

Trump has main­tained that he ex­pects Mex­ico to ul­ti­mately pay for the wall, per­haps as part of a rene­go­ti­a­tion of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment. Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto has re­peat­edly re­jected the idea. The is­sue has helped sour re­la­tions be­tween the two lead­ers.

He also raised the pos­si­bil­ity in a tweet Tues­day of jus­ti­fy­ing the cost of the wall based on sav­ings in gov­ern­ment spend­ing that im­mi­gra­tion op­po­nents an­tic­i­pate from the tighter bor­der. The Twit­ter mes­sage cited es­ti­mates by the right­ist Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, which fa­vors lower lev­els of im­mi­gra­tion.

“Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, the $18 bil­lion wall will pay for it­self by curb­ing the im­por­ta­tion of

crime, drugs and il­le­gal im­mi­grants who tend to go on the fed­eral dole,” Trump tweeted.

The Na­tional Acad­e­mies of Sci­ences, En­gi­neer­ing and Medicine con­cluded in a 2016 re­port that im­mi­gra­tion in re­cent decades has raised over­all U.S. eco­nomic growth.

First-gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants are more costly to gov­ern­ments, mainly at the state and lo­cal lev­els, than are na­tive-born Amer­i­cans, in large part be­cause of the cost of ed­u­cat­ing their chil­dren, the re­port found. How­ever, as adults, those sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants are among the strong­est eco­nomic con­trib­u­tors to the coun­try and pay pro­por­tion­ately more in taxes than the rest of the na­tive-born pop­u­la­tion.

Tues­day’s visit wasn’t Trump’s first to the bor­der. He trav­eled to Laredo — one of Texas’ safest cities — weeks af­ter declar­ing his can­di­dacy in June 2015.

Trump told re­porters then that he was putting him­self “in great dan­ger” by go­ing to the

bor­der. But, he said, “I have to do it. I love this coun­try.”

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Kath­leen Ron­ayne, John Antczak, El­liot Spagat, Greg Bull, Dar­lene Su­perville, Ken Thomas, Nancy Benac and Julie Wat­son of The As­so­ci­ated Press and by Jen­nifer Ep­stein and Mark Ni­quette of Bloomberg News.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump gets a close look at bor­der-wall pro­to­types Tues­day in San Diego. Trump later at­tended a high-dol­lar fundraiser in Los An­ge­les, where he was to stay overnight.

Los An­ge­les Times/ROBERT GAU­THIER

Adrian As­cen­cio, 73, of Red­lands, Calif., stands for the na­tional an­them as sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump gather for the pres­i­dent’s visit Tues­day in San Diego near the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

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