Trump to visit US-Mexico border to promote plan to build wall from private funds

Trump to visit US-Mexico border to promote plan to build wall from private funds
‘Our poor borders, they were so perfect. They were so good’

Donald Trump is to visit the US-Mexico border in Texas on Wednesday to promote plans to finish building his wall from private funds – a promise he was largely unable to achieve using federal dollars.

In a move that is seen by both Republicans and Democrats as an attempt by the former president to rally his base at a time when he is largely out of the spotlight and unable to use social media, Mr Trump will travel to Weslaco in the Rio Grande valley.

He will be accompanied by Texas governor Greg Abbott, and two-dozen Republican members of Congress, and will hold a roundtable on border security. There will then be a town hall style meeting hosted by Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, among Mr Trump’s most loyal media supporters.

“Illegal aliens are overrunning their borders. Nobody’s ever seen anything like it,” Mr Trump claimed during a rally in Ohio over the weekend.

“Our poor borders, they were so perfect. They were so good.”

For certain sections of Mr Trump’s base, few issues more excite them than that of immigration and ensuring a “tough” border policy.

After Joe Biden was elected president, he put an end to the largely failed effort to construct a new wall, and changed rules for asylum seekers, allowing the most vulnerable to wait in the US while their claims were being assessed, rather than in Mexico border city.

The change in policy saw a sharp spike in the number of children and families from places such as Honduras and El Salvador arriving at the border. The Biden administration built makeshift camps to house thousands of children, while Republicans such as Mr Trump and Texas senator Ted Cruz accused Democrats of being “soft” on immigration.

As president, Mr Trump often bragged of his desire to build a new wall along the southern border, famously bragging that Mexico would pay for it. In the end, he probably managed to complete a couple of hundred miles of new fencing, none of which was paid for by the US’s southern neighbour.

In a new twist, Mr Abbott has said he will use state funds, that originally came from the federal government, to try and build a wall. He has also said he will seek private donations and set up a crowdsourcing website.

(Last year, Mr Trump’s former top adviser Steve Bannon and three others were charged with defrauding members of the public by collecting funds to build a wall that was not built. They have pleaded not guilty. Bannon himself was pardoned by Mr Trump as one of the very last acts of his presidency.)

“Texas is going to do what the Biden administration is refusing to do. Texas is going up step up and secure our border. We will be using every tool available to us under the law,” Mr Abbott told Fox News.

“And we will ensure that we build the wall, arrest people and make Texas safe, and send a message to Washington DC – stand up and do your job.”

Children in custody inside Texas migrant centre

Matt Angle, a Democratic strategist, told The Independent Mr Abbott would twist and bend every rule to try and build the wall, but that it would do little good.

“Greg Abbott has spent the last 10 years spending millions of dollars on border security, and it has done nothing,” he said. “All they do is stir people up. Greg Abbott is now like Trump.”

Larry Sabato, Professor of Politics and the University of Virginia, said polling showed that Democrats, including Mr Biden, were “not rated highly on the immigration issue, [and] seen as too soft”.

“Immigration has consistently been one of Trump’s best issues,” he added.

Mr Trump has started holding a series of rallies across the country, one of the few ways he has to connect with supporters, after he was banned from both Twitter and Facebook, for making false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

Despite promises by Mr Trump just a few hundred miles of new wall were completed

There remains uncertainty as to whether he will make a fresh presidential bid in 2024, yet if he were to do so he would likely be most favoured of the Republican candidates. As such, to keep his base fired up – and to make himself appear relevant – Mr Trump has been hitting issues he knows score easy thrills for his supporters.

“Republicans understand what a severe case of invasion and illegal behaviour we have at the border. And the Biden administration has done nothing about it,” Republican Texas congressman Roger Williams, toldThe Hill.

Mr Williams, who will be among those joining Mr Trump, added that the former president will “reemphasise that we should continue to build the wall and that catch-and-release needs to be stopped”.

Mr Trump’s trip comes less than a week after after vice president Kamala Harris also visited the border, in El Paso, Texas.

She has been tasked by Mr Biden of trying to stem the flood of arrivals, both by streaming border agency processes, but also overseeing efforts to provide financial help to the poorest nations in Central America, to try and provide opportunities for people there.

She visited both Guatemala and Mexico earlier this month to speak to the leaders of both countries about the regional crisis.

In Guatemala, where she spoke standing next to the country’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, Ms Harris urged people not to leave their homes.

“Do not come. Do not come. The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our borders,” she said. “If you come to our border, you will be turned back.”

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