In California, Trump Attacks Jerry Brown and ‘Sanctuary Policies’


Mr. Brown used the president’s favorite medium to fire back. “Thanks for the shout-out, @realDonaldTrump,” the governor wrote on Twitter. “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.”

Shepherded around in his armored cars and Marine helicopters, Mr. Trump was largely insulated from the dissenters in a state that he lost by four million votes in 2016 and where just 30 percent approve of his performance today. But his trip generated strong feelings that were on display in his wake as he visited San Diego before heading to Los Angeles for a fund-raising event.

A few miles of freeway to the west from the border zone he visited, Mr. Trump’s opponents gathered in the parking lot of a hilltop church overlooking Mexico. His supporters assembled at an industrial park off in the distance.

The separation was by design: Organizers from each side said they wanted to stay apart and avoid clashes. As much as each place represented opposing views of a polarized America, many of the same emotions were on display — anger, resentment, sadness.

The president’s supporters were angry at immigrants, his opponents at a “militarized” border force and the president himself. On each side were woeful personal stories.

Among Trump supporters, the focus was on loved ones lost to murders or drunken driving crashes carried out by undocumented immigrants. Among the opposition, the talk centered on families separated or desperate migrants dying trying to reach America illegally.

It was a day for the bullhorn and the podium, but not for mass protests, as immigrant rights activists, faith-based groups, union organizers and clergymen used the visit to hone their messages in advance of the midterm elections.

At the anti-Trump church gathering, Representative Juan C. Vargas, a Democrat whose district includes part of San Diego, delivered a passionate rebuke of the president. “If we didn’t have immigrants he wouldn’t have wives!” he said. He added, “We have to resist and we have to let him know that California doesn’t welcome him.”

Neal José Wilkinson, a pastor in San Diego, made a plea for civil disobedience. Saying that Jesus Christ was killed because he broke the rules, Pastor Wilkinson declared, “There’s a higher authority then you Donald Trump!”

There were softer appeals as well. “I ask you to keep building bridges of love of kindness to other people,” said José Castillo, pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the Catholic church where the rally was held.

Mr. Trump’s welcome committee of a few hundred people, many dressed in the flag, gathered for what was part pep rally and part celebration of what they viewed as the fulfillment of a campaign promise: the construction of a wall to keep undocumented Mexican immigrants away. To a scratchy rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” mixed with clips of Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican convention, supporters cast themselves as “deplorables” and enthusiastic gun owners, and hoped for a glimpse of the president’s motorcade.

“He said secure the borders, build the wall, everything,” said Julie Horn, explaining her support. Her husband, Scott, a retired construction worker echoed her views. “I think he’s done great,” he said. As Trump supporters in California, they said they were living in the state only to be close to their grandchildren.

“You don’t put a Trump sticker on your car,’’ Ms. Horn said. “Your car will get smashed.”

Not all of the faces at the rally were white. Kathy Robinson, an African-American from Burbank who works as a wedding photographer and Uber driver, voted in 2016 for Hillary Clinton. But after the election she said she regretted that, and had come to view undocumented immigrants as a menace who take jobs away from American citizens. “Trump is not racist,” she said. “He’s just against illegal immigrants. He loves black people.”

Later in the day, Mr. Trump addressed a hangar full of enthusiastic military service members at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar before attending a fund-raiser expected to raise $5 million at the home of Edward Glazer, co-chairman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mr. Trump has stayed away until now from California, realizing that the state is beyond his reach in 2020 if he runs for re-election, as he says he will. But he noted that he owns property in the state. “The taxes are way, way out of whack,” Mr. Trump said, “and people are going to start to move pretty soon.”

At the border, Mr. Trump inspected eight wall prototypes, all of them looming over him. The border section he visited is currently guarded by a wire fence and sheet metal barrier, which local border patrol agents said have cut down on crossings since they were first erected. Mr. Trump argued that they need to be replaced by something more permanent and impenetrable. He expressed a preference for the models that have slats allowing border patrol officers to see through them.


Trump Wants a Border Wall. See What’s in Place Already.

President Trump seeks to build a wall that would cost $18 billion. Here, we have mapped out the current fencing and illegal crossings across the border.

OPEN Graphic

As Mexicans watched from across the barrier, Mr. Trump described an epidemic of drugs and human traffickers that he has vowed to stop. He argued that building a wall would cost less than what he said was the price of social ills created by illegal immigration.

“We need safety,” Mr. Trump said. “We need security at the border and we’re getting it like we’ve never had it before. But we want to make it perfecto.”

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2018-03-13 19:52:04
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