The Latest: President Donald Trump’s McAllen visit

President Donald Trump is joined by Texas Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, at Anzalduas Park in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

The latest on the president’s visit to the Rio Grande Valley amid a partial government shutdown over a fight for funding of a border wall:

UPDATE 4:35 P.M.

In yet another response to President Donald Trump’s border visit to advocate for the construction of a $5.7 billion border wall, the ACLU of Texas released a statement urging Congress and border U.S. senators to continue rejecting the president’s request.

“The only border crisis is the one created by President Trump for political gain at the expense of the rights and the lives of migrants who have the right to seek asylum at the U.S. border,” said Astrid Dominguez, director of the ACLU Border Rights Center in the statement. “The crisis created by this administration also harms the people in our border communities, who have rallied to provide migrants with needed humanitarian aid and overwhelmingly oppose Trump’s wall obsession.”

Michael Seifert, border advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Texas, called out the President’s intentions for this visit, stating that if it was a serious investigative trip to the Rio Grande Valley he would have taken the time to speak to people who live along the border.

“We would tell him that he has created a humanitarian crisis in our region that has terrorized our children, embarrassed us before the world, and threatens our region’s fragile economy,” Seifert stated in the news release. “His hysteria and his lies about our region have made visitors afraid to come to some of the most beautiful and safest communities in the nation.”

3:57 P.M.

Air Force One departed McAllen Miller International Airport just before 4 p.m. Thursday, ending President Donald Trump’s visit to the Rio Grande Valley.

The President arrived at around 12:40 p.m. and was greeted by area politicians, as well as a pool of local and national media.

His first stop was at the U.S. Border Patrol station in McAllen, where he led a roundtable discussion focused on border security issues. He also made a stop at Anzalduas Park in Mission.

The visit revolved around his push to build a border wall at an estimated cost of $5.7 billion. The widely divisive issue led to the partial government shutdown as Trump’s demands for funding to build the structure are not being met by Democrats.  

3:22 P.M.

Standing along the Rio Grande, President Donald Trump says “a lot of the crime in our country is caused by what’s coming through here.”

Trump is touring a section of the U.S.-Mexico border as he seeks to bolster his case for spending billions of dollars on a border wall.

A law enforcement officer told Trump during his tour that a greater percentage of apprehensions in recent weeks have involved people from places other than Mexico and Central America. He cited people from Pakistan, China and India as specific examples.

Trump tells reporters, “So they apprehended people from the Middle East and they do it all the time.”

Trump says: “Whether it’s steel or concrete, you don’t care. We need a barrier.”

— The Associated Press

2:45 P.M.

Local State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, responded to President Donald Trump’s border-wall push while in the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday.

In his statement, Hinojosa said that while he agrees on continuing to enforce border security, he does not agree on the efficiency of a wall.

“I agree with President Trump on funding the following: cutting edge technology for detecting drugs, weapons, illegal contraband; more agents and immigration judges to process immigration cases; urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support,” he wrote. “However, as a resident and representative of a community along the Texas-Mexico border, I can assure you that it is unnecessary to allocate billions of dollars for a border wall.”

Hinojosa cited the billions spent over the years on these tactics; more than $2.8 million since 2013, he wrote. And stated that there are already strategically located structures, such as fences, that could be improved.

“We should not be extending them into environmentally sensitive areas such as Bentsen State Park,” Hinojosa wrote. “The effectiveness of these obstacles is questionable, as humans have found ways to circumvent walls for thousands of years. It is clear that the majority of drugs are brought into this country by cars, trains, planes, boats, and even submarines. I would strongly urge and encourage President Trump to focus on border security instead of a wall.”

2:04 P.M.

Border Patrol Agent Javier Vega’s mother Marie Vega addressed the immigration and border security roundtable hosted by President Donald Trump.

Javier Vega was killed by an undocumented immigrant in August 2014, while visiting Santa Monica in Cameron County for a family fishing outing.

“No family should suffer the loss of a child, a parent should not have to bury their child,” Marie Vega said. “We need the wall, and I don’t mean just build the wall, we need to enforce immigration law … ”

UPDATED 1:42 P.M.

1:29 p.m.

The immigration and border security roundtable hosted by President Donald Trump at the U.S. Border Patrol station in McAllen has started.

He is joined by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Republican Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. He is also joined by Reggie Singh, the brother of a California peace officer who was shot to death by an undocumented immigrant, according to law enforcement.

Also joining the round table is Marie Vega, mother of Javier Vega Jr., border patrol agent stationed in the Rio Grande Valley and killed by undocumented immigrants in August 2014.

Donald Trump is in the Valley to make a push for his immigration policies.

1:03 p.m.

UPDATED 12:44 p.m.

Air Force One touched down in McAllen at about 12:40 p.m. Thursday as President Trump made his way into the Rio Grande Valley.

Trump is expected to travel to the U.S. Border Patrol station in McAllen, where he will host a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders.

UPDATE 12:41PM

We are getting reports of street closures ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit. A confirmed closure on 23th street south of the expressway, according to McAllen Police Department’s traffic division.

11:40 a.m.

The League of Latin United Citizens is holding a news conference and protest until 1 p.m. at the U.S. Border Patrol Station in McAllen, where Donald Trump is expected to visit after he lands at McAllen Miller International Airport.

According to a LULAC news release, the protest will include a Trump Blimp Balloon, which has made appearances at other Trump protests in the past.

11:17 a.m.

Tensions between protesters and supporters of President Trump escalated here Thursday morning into a shouting match that spilled out onto the street.

Demonstrations in the vicinity of 10th Street and Wichita in front of La Plaza Mall are currently being held in anticipation of Trump’s visit to McAllen. But a tense exchange occurred when one man wearing a “Latinos for Trump” T-shirt decided to approach the people protesting the president.

The man said he was then accosted by the protesters and that he had to back away to avoid physical confrontation. “They’re all about hate,” the Trump supporter said before remarking about the protesters speaking of love.

Both groups shouted slogans such as, “Build the wall,” as well as “no border wall,” and even broke out in song at one point, singing the national anthem.

9:32 a.m.

President Donald Trump has departed for McAllen Miller International Airport and is expected to land in McAllen at 12:45 p.m.local time, according to the White House press secretary. He will then depart to the U.S. Border Patrol station in McAllen, where he will participate in a roundtable on immigration and border security.

At 2:15 p.m., the president will then head to the Rio Grande, where he will be given a briefing on border security. He will then return to the airport for a 3:40 p.m. departure.

Trump is the sixth sitting president to visit the region and the first since George W. Bush in 2006. The first presidential visit was by Dwight D. Eisenhower in October of 1953.

Check back for updates.