Making his first trip to California since taking office, President Donald Trump on Tuesday showed off prototypes for his long-promised border wall, strongly condemned jurisdictions that offer “sanctuary” to undocumented immigrants – and accused the state’s governor of doing “a terrible job.”
The visit, which drew protesters on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, came at a time of escalating acrimony between Trump and Democratic leaders of the nation’s most populous state, who have sought through legislation and lawsuits to counter Trump on immigration and other policies.
Even against that backdrop, Trump’s swipe at Gov. Jerry Brown, D, was remarkable coming from a sitting president. As Trump toured the site of eight prototypes of the border wall, he told onlookers that Brown “does a very poor job of running California.”
“They have the highest taxes in the United States,” Trump said. “The place is totally out of control. You have sanctuary cities where you have criminals living in the sanctuary cities.”
The president also noted that he owns property in the state – a home in Beverly Hills and a golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes – and predicted that people would start to move out of California because of taxes that are “way, way out of whack.”
Brown responded on Twitter, thanking Trump for the “shout-out.”
“California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America,” Brown wrote, adding: “#Facts.”
Trump’s trip included an address to military personnel here at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where he was well-received as he touted planned pay raises and new investments in helicopters and other equipment. Trump also floated the idea of creating a new branch of the military to fight in space.
The president later attended a fundraiser in the Los Angeles area to benefit the Republican National Committee. A few hundred people reportedly turned out to protest near the Beverly Hills residence where Trump gathered with donors.
The border-wall prototypes Trump visited are on display in a dusty lot near the border. The 30-foot-tall barriers use varying configurations of steel, concrete and even spikes to create ramparts far more formidable than almost anything in place along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.
The Trump administration is seeking $18 billion for wall construction over the next 10 years, an amount that would pay for roughly 300 miles of barriers where none exist and allow the government to replace 400 miles of “legacy” fencing.
“We need safety, we need security at the border, and we’re getting it like we’ve never had it before,” Trump said. “But we want to make it perfecto.”
At one point, protesters could be heard chanting in Spanish from the other side of the border.
En route to the Golden State earlier Tuesday, Trump took aim on Twitter at its “sanctuary” laws.
“California’s sanctuary policies are illegal and unconstitutional and put the safety and security of our entire nation at risk,” the president wrote, adding: “THIS MUST STOP!”
He echoed those themes in remarks near the border and at the Marine base here.
Tensions between Trump and leaders of California – a state that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried by 30 percentage points in 2016 – have reached a boil over immigration.
Last week, Brown accused the Trump administration of “basically going to war against the state” over the announcement of a lawsuit that aims to compel California to cooperate with Trump’s agenda of stepped-up immigrant deportations.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · John Wagner