Donald Trump brought his hard-charging campaign against illegal immigration to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday, warning of “great danger” from a flood of migrants and accusing his enemies of trying to silence the local Border Patrol agents who’d initially invited him.
He was greeted upon arrival by a mass of onlookers at the Laredo Airport, with opponents chanting “fuera,” or telling him to get out, while one supporter held a sign that read “no era insulto,” meaning Mr. Trump’s controversial comments about Mexico sending rapists and other criminals to the U.S. shouldn’t be taken as an insult.
For his part Mr. Trump didn’t back down on his warnings about the border.
“There’s great danger with the illegals,” Mr. Trump said shortly after touring a section of the U.S.-Mexico border near Laredo, Texas. “We have a tremendous danger on the border with the illegals coming in.”
He also said he’s winning strong support from Hispanic voters for his presidential campaign and that there is evidence to back up his claims of violent criminals streaming across the border.
The Hill newspaper published an interview with Mr. Trump Thursday morning in which he said he might make an independent run if he doesn’t get the GOP nomination and feels the Republican National Committee doesn’t treat him well as the primary campaign moves along. He repeatedly said he wants to win the Republican nomination.
Mr. Trump’s visit was mired in controversy from the start. The local Border Patrol labor union that had planned to host Mr. Trump backed out Thursday, saying he’d blown the event out of proportion.
“After careful consideration of all the factors involved in this event and communicating with members of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) at the National level, it has been decided by Local 2455 to pull out of all events involving Donald Trump,” the union said in a statement.
Mr. Trump said the agents had originally invited him “because of the tremendous problem and the tremendous crime” but at the last moment said they couldn’t get involved.
“And I heard they got those orders from Washington,” he said.
Instead, Mr. Trump was flanked by Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz and City Manager Jesus Olivares when he addressed reporters after his tour.
Mr. Trump said Mr. Saenz greeted him well and that the mayor has done a “fantastic” job.
Mr. Saenz said it was an opportunity to show Mr. Trump and his entourage “what Laredo’s all about.”
Viewing the border, Mr. Trump said he had concluded that Mexico was “doing so well.” He said he wasn’t sure whether that was good for the U.S., but it was good for Mexico.
He also declined to say what he would do about the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S., saying there would be time to talk about that after the border is secure.
Mr. Trump’s focus on the border and comments about illegal immigration have drawn criticism from fellow Republican presidential hopefuls.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who called Mr. Trump’s candidacy a “cancer on conservatism” Wednesday, has been feuding with the businessman over Mr. Perry’s move to commit Texas’s own resources to stiffen enforcement.
Mr. Perry said Mr. Trump is fundamentally misunderstanding the notion that border security is a federal responsibility and said he acted in his capacity as governor on the issue when he felt the Obama administration wasn’t doing enough.
“It’s going to take more than a day trip for him to convince the American people he is anything but a hypocrite when it comes to border security,” said Mr. Perry.
Mr. Trump said before touring the border that Mr. Perry did a “terrible job” as governor.
• David Sherfinski can be reached at email@example.com.
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