SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will visit a section of wall along the U.S. border with Mexico on Wednesday in a bid to illustrate his commitment to crack down on illegal border crossings as he raises money in California for his re-election campaign.
U.S. President Donald Trump disembarks from Air Force One with his newly announced White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien after arriving at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California, U.S., September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
The Republican president, who is on a three-day swing through the U.S. West that has included a rally in New Mexico and a number of fundraisers in California, also used his trip to criticize the homelessness problem in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
While deciding how to respond to an attack on oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and fresh from naming a new national security adviser, the president still had immigration at the top of his mind.
“We’re going to show you a lot of wall. We’re building a lot of wall,” he told reporters in Los Angeles before taking off for San Diego.
Trump’s supporters are eager for the president to keep his promise to build a wall to stem migrant crossings through Mexico from Central America. Crowd chants of “Build the Wall!” are often the loudest at his political rallies across the country.
In February, Trump declared a national emergency in order to divert funding toward wall construction when Congress refused to give him the amount he requested. As a candidate in 2016, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall. It has refused to do so.
Trump has sought to assure supporters he is making good on his promise, but according to Politifact, his administration has not built new segments of a wall since he took office in 2017, although it has replaced some 60 miles (96 km) of existing border barriers with new fencing.
Democrats sharply criticize Trump’s policies and do not believe a wall is the answer to the country’s immigration challenges.
Trump is also collecting cash to bolster his campaign coffers as multiple Democratic presidential candidates ramp up their efforts to take him on in the November 2020 election.
The president’s campaign and the Republican National Committee were expected to raise some $15 million at events during his western trip, according to an RNC official.
The RNC raised $23.5 million in August and $141.4 million for the 2019-2020 election cycle so far, and has $53.8 million in cash on hand, the official said.
Unlike his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama, Trump is not a frequent visitor to California, a heavily Democratic state that Trump lost by more than 4 million votes in 2016. He used his visit to criticize the state for its challenges dealing with a growing homeless population.
“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” he told reporters on Air Force One on Tuesday, suggesting that the issue had dented those cities’ reputations.
Big-city mayors in California have said the homelessness problem in the most-populous U.S. state should not be a partisan issue.
Reporting by Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Peter Cooney