By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Frank Gormlie, San Diego Free Press
March 14, 2018 (San Diego) – In a visit to San Diego on Monday, President Donald Trump toured prototypes of a border wall in Otay Mesa. Hundreds of protesters turned out, San Diego Free Press reports, at the border as well as downtown.
Trump supporters also came to greet the president including rallies by the anti-immigrant organization San Diegans for Secure Borders, a group led by former San Diego Minutemen organizer Jeff Schwilk.
A crowd of about 500 in Otay Mesa carried signs reading “Build bridges not walls” and other anti-administration messages. Protesters including an interfaith coalition of religious leaders objecting to the President’s harsh immigration and deportation policies as well as his plan to build a massive border wall.
The president criticized Governor Jerry Brown for doing a “terrible job” running the state of California, specifically stating “You have sanctuary cities where you have criminals living….” He then accused Oakland’s mayor of tipping off immigrants about an ICE raid and claimed this resulted in many criminals being at large.
Ironically, also yesterday, James Schwab a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE resigned his position over what he called “false” and “misleading” statements made by ICE’s acting director Thomas Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions which suggested that hundreds of “criminals” had escaped capture in northern California due to the Oakland mayor’s actions. Schwab said, “To say that 100 percent are dangerous criminals on the street, or that these people weren’t picked up because of the misguided actions of the mayor, is just wrong,” the Washington Post reports.
Regarding the Governor, Trump praised Brown as a “nice guy” but faulted California’s sanctuary state status, which is administration has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn. He also blamed Brown for what the President characterized as high taxes, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Brown responded on Twitter, “Thanks for the shout-out, @realDonaldTrump. But bridges are still better than walls. And California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America. #Facts,” Brown tweeted Tuesday.
Trump was joined at the wall by members of the military and Border Patrol, as well as by Congressman Duncan D. Hunter and his father, the former Congressman.
The President examined the prototypes and reiterated his preference for a see-through wall to allow Border Patrol agents to see what is happening on the Mexican side of the border, actions he says are needed to control drug cartels as well as dissuading undocumented immigrants from entering the U.S.
Meanwhile social media posts by various groups have proposed that the tens of billions of dollars proposed for the wall might be better spent on various other options ranging from rebuilding areas damaged by hurricanes, floods and fires to helping the homeless or raising Social Security benefits.