Wikimedia Commons / U.S. White House
President Donald Trump reviews U.S. Customs and Border Protection's wall prototypes in California earlier in his term.
South Texas political leaders and activists decried President Donald Trump's trip to the region on Tuesday, saying the appearance to tout his border wall was intended to play to his white nationalist base.
Trump made an afternoon speech in the Rio Grande Valley to talk up the wall, which he claimed had slowed illegal border crossings and crime. The appearance marked his first speech since armed supporters of the president staged a coup attempt in the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead.
"We need to connect the dots between the violence we saw in Washington D.C. last week and the border wall," Tricia Cortez, executive director of the No Border Wall Coalition, said of the president's visit. "President Trump could have gone anywhere after this stunning event that took place at the U.S. Capitol, and he chose to come here. He chose to come to the border and the border wall because that wall is used to whip up his violent base. The wall is a national disaster and it is what stokes this racially motivated violence."
Democratic U.S. Rep. Vicente González, D-McAllen, said Trump's decision to focus on the wall instead of the staggering COVID-19 rates along the border shows the president's continued failure of leadership.
"Now he's coming to our border to try to give a better last image to his presidency," González said. "He's trying to appease his base, and this is happening as the deaths related to COVID-19 have not slowed down for our border communities. In our communities of color, in the Latino community and in the Rio Grande Valley we have lost 2.5 to 3 times more people than the rest of the state."
Homeowner Robbie Flores, a documentary filmmaker, said the stretch of wall constructed in her city of Eagle Pass wasted money that could have been spent on worthwhile projects to better the lives of South Texans.
"This is a very poor attempt at an art installation by the federal government and serves as a symbol that is anti-American," Flores said. "It’s like the anti-American Statue of Liberty.”
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