President Donald Trump’s final visit to the US-Mexico border on Tuesday has drawn condemnation from civil and immigrant rights groups, who warned the “reckless and dangerous political stunt” may lead to more violence similar to the mob attacks on the Capitol.
Ahead of his visit, the Houston Chronicle – a prominent local newspaper – published an editorial titled: “Don’t bring your mess to Texas, President Donald Trump”.
“Don’t be distracted by President Trump’s Tuesday visit to Texas,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote. “Don’t be fooled into believing a White House spokesman who claimed this hurried trip to Hidalgo County is to mark ‘a promise made, promise kept – and his administration’s efforts to reform our broken immigration system.’”
The editorial board continued: “Trump didn’t keep the promise. After four years, the ‘big, beautiful’ wall he promised from sea to shining sea includes a grand total of 30 new miles. And news flash: Mexico didn’t pay for it.”
According to Reuters, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) puts the Trump administration’s completed border barriers at 453 miles overall, however, just 80 mies of that is in places where there had been no previous structure, with the majority just replacing barriers that had been constructed by past administrations.
Groups opposing the president’s visit have announced a rally in the Rio Grande Valley as he heads to Alamo, Texas for a tour of the border barrier. His travels come after a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol last week following his speech in Washington, in which he continued to promote flagrant falsities surrounding his electoral defeat while urging his supporters to march to Capitol Hill.
The result was a violent riot in which five people died, and which left the offices and chambers of Congress ransacked.
Lupe, a civil rights nonprofit in Texas, announced a demonstration in San Juan for Tuesday afternoon as the president was expected to arrive in the area.
Noting the potential for violence, organisers of the rally said in a press release: “At this point in time, we cannot in good conscience encourage community members to approach violent white supremacists who have no sense of what is right, what is moral, or what is the right side of history.”
Instead, the organisation said it was holding a rally away from the president’s visit to “show the real face and story” of the local community.
During the Capitol riot, Mr Trump’s supporters clashed with police officers, injuring at least 14 and killing one United States Capitol Police officer, who died as a result of his injuries sustained by the mob.
But it wasn’t the first time his supporters stirred political violence – and Texas officials were all too aware of it.
Late last year during the final stretch of the presidential campaign, Mr Trump’s supporters harassed one of President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign buses as it drove through central Texas.
The dangerous confrontation was condemned by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle – and yet Mr Trump shared a video of the incident to his Twitter page, writing: “I LOVE TEXAS!”
In an interview with the Texas Tribune on Monday, former Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis said: “It’s no surprise that we see things like Wednesday of last week in our nation’s Capitol, when people who are behaving aggressively like that are rewarded and praised by their quote-unquote leader for that kind of behavior.”
“I’ve been in public politics for a long time. This isn’t how people who have been on the other side have conducted themselves in the past,” she added. “It’s risen to a level that is emboldened and embraced, unfortunately, by elected officials, and it’s going to continue to rise to these dangerous fever pitches if we don’t do something about it.”
The White House said in a statement the president was headed to the US-Mexico border “to mark the completion of more than 400 miles of border wall – a promise made, promise kept” – although the actual figures surrounding Mr Trump’s border wall project were subject to debate.
His travels also come as calls grow for his removal from office, with a growing list of Democrats and even some Republicans demanding Vice President Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment – through which a majority of Cabinet appointees vote the president out of office – or otherwise have Congress launch a second round of impeachment proceedings.