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Trump Visits Border As Talks To End Shutdown Produce No Results

Jan 11, 2019
Originally published on January 11, 2019 6:47 am
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump took his fight for a border wall to the border itself, making a visit to McAllen, Texas, yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And it's not about an argument. And it's not about politics for me. It's about doing the right thing. I mean, I could do a lot easier things. I could just forget this like everyone else did.

MARTIN: We have heard a lot about how the president's visit did or did not, rather, change minds in Washington, D.C. NPR's Wade Goodwyn brings us the view on the ground from McAllen.

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WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: At 120,000 people, McAllen, Texas, is no longer a little town on the border but one of the fastest-growing cities in the state. Standing out on Military Highway next to his car, 40-year-old Andres Diego has brought his 2-year-old son. And they wait for President Trump to pass by.

ANDRES DIEGO: I live here in San Benito, Texas. I traveled an hour just to come and see his barricade.

GOODWYN: Diego very much likes the idea of building a wall along the border. He holds his toddler in his arms.

DIEGO: You see my son right here? This is your future ICE agent, little Andy Diego. And that's what we believe. We believe that what you want to abolish, we're going to support more.

GOODWYN: Diego agrees with the president's assessment that illegal immigration is an American crisis.

DIEGO: The reason it's a crisis, sir - it's because now it's families. And what happens? My schools get flooded with those illegal immigrants that don't know English, so it's a barrier for our kids. It's a barrier for our communities.

GOODWYN: One driveway away, Thelma Molano stands in front of her ranch house. And she couldn't disagree more with Andres Diego.

THELMA MOLANO: Yes, we have our occasional illegals that pass through Granjeno. But a crisis the way it's made out to seem in the media? No.

GOODWYN: Molano's home is on Military Highway. It's ironic, but the same road President Trump's motorcade traveled down is the road illegal immigrants walk up to surrender to the Border Patrol. There's a Border Patrol station about a mile down. Molano's sympathies lie with the women and children who pass by, walking exhaustedly hand in hand. The idea of a wall to keep them out disgusts her.

MOLANO: I think that the wall is just a campaign promise he made. And I take it like it's an insult to us. I mean, he basically doesn't want brown people here.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) No more wall. No more wall.

GOODWYN: Down the highway, pro- and anti-wall protesters are gathered right next to one another. The two groups merge seamlessly together. And in true border fashion, they don't angrily protest at one another. They demonstrate outward, enthusiastically to the world. Lucy Torres holds a big poster of the Statue of Liberty with dozens of people standing underneath the statue.

LUCY TORRES: There's immigrants from every country, every part of the world.

GOODWYN: A few steps away stands 20-year-old Brisa Garcia, holding one end of a long Trump sign and wearing a red Make America Great Again baseball cap. Her shirt has a drawing of a huge hand, its index finger pointing straight out. It says you are - big finger pointing right at me - fake news. She has a big smile on her face. As I approach with my microphone pointed right back at her, she starts to laugh. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, McAllen, Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.