Under unprecedented, multi-layered security from federal officials and local law enforcement clad in riot gear, President Donald J. Trump flew to San Diego yesterday aboard Air Force One in a brief but busy itinerary. The visit on March 13th was Trump’s first trek to California since the election, and he had a lot on his plate.
The president arrived at MCS Miramar at about 11am, and was whisked away within minutes to a Marine One chopper in route to Brown Field in Otay Mesa. From there, Trump’s motorcade headed out to view nearby prototypes for his proposed wall, which will cost taxpayers an estimated $22 billion. About 300 supporters of the president jockeyed along the way to catch a glimpse of Trump, along with hecklers who lined up across the road and jeered. At the site, the president met with high-ranking Border Patrol brass and local GOP politicians. Absent from that group was Congressman Juan Vargas, a Democrat, who gathered with a group that opposes the wall at another location, including Mt. Carmel Catholic Church that overlooks San Ysidro and neighboring Tijuana.
After inspecting the prototypes, Trump made a quick speech thanking the brave folks from the Border Patrol who are doing a “fantastic job.” Without favoring any particular structure, the president hinted that his wall must be tall and made of concrete, comparing the undocumented to “professional mountain-climbers” who can easily scale a regular wire fence. He also requested that the wall be “see through” so agents could detect who might be trying to create mischief on Mexico’s side of the barrier. Then Trump went on to rant about Oakland mayor Libby Schaff for allegedly tipping off illegal immigrants in her city prior to rumored raids by ICE. The controversy recently prompted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fly to Sacramento and file a lawsuit against the state of California over sanctuary cities.
After the short press conference, Trump made a quick exit and hopped a lift back to the Miramar Air Base. An enthusiastic group from all branches of service assembled inside a large hanger, and the beaming president was in his element, speaking for nearly 40 minutes.
“The two year budget agreement I just reached with Congress includes $700 billion in defense spending this year, and $716 billion in 2019,” revealed Trump. “And next year, we want to give you the largest pay raise in a decade, because you deserve it.”
Trump even floated the idea of creating a “Space Force” military branch. But at the conclusion of his pep talk, the president neglected to personally greet and mingle with key personal in the crowd. That’s because he needed to arrive in Beverly Hills for an important GOP fundraiser at the home of Ed Glazer, owner of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Manchester United soccer franchise. The minimum donation was $35,000 with a goal of reaching $5 million at the event. But while the president was enjoying dinner, organizers back in San Diego had an afternoon rally cooking.
A large and ethnic mix of folks gathered at Waterfront Park and peacefully marched to the Federal Building downtown in protest of the wall, which is not a popular subject for most Californians. People are also angry and feel betrayed by Congress for not drawing up a new bill to protect DACA recipients. The vast majority of Americans side with the Dreamers, and President Trump has offered to give 1.8 million young people a path to citizenship. But the deadline to act has long expired, and nothing is happening on The Hill in D.C.
Peaceful demonstrations were also staged in Santa Monica on the evening of the 13th. Los Angeles is also considered a sanctuary city where nearly half of the population is of Hispanic descent. So understandably, the president’s brief visit was a bit controversial. Temple City resident Jessica Meza was among the crowd of protesters who expressed her opinion with some harsh words.
“Trump and his followers basically go around touting their racist views,” she claimed. “And then they mask it around as patriotism.”