On Visit To California, President Trump Reviews Prototypes For Border Wall

Mar 13, 2018
Originally published on March 14, 2018 1:20 am
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President Trump is in California today, where he visited prototypes for his border wall with Mexico. He also met with immigration enforcement officers and criticized California's immigration policies and the state's governor, Jerry Brown. This was the first time Trump visited California as president. The last president to wait this long to visit the state was Franklin Roosevelt.

NPR's Nathan Rott has been following President Trump's trip and joins us now. Hi, Nate.


SHAPIRO: President Trump spent about an hour at the border looking at prototypes for the border wall. What'd you learn from his visit there?

ROTT: Well, Trump has said that he's wanted to look at those eight towering prototypes that have been built down there to choose which one makes the most sense. As far as we can tell he didn't pick a winner. He did say that some looked more effective than others. But I think the real takeaway from his visit there wasn't so much about the wall but the bigger debate over immigration that it's come to represent. Trump took the opportunity to bash sanctuary cities and California efforts to shield people who are in the country illegally. Let's listen to a little tape of that.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: California's sanctuary policies put the entire nation at risk. They're the best friend of the criminal. That's what exactly is happening. The criminals take refuge in these sanctuary cities.

ROTT: He echoed that at a later rally at a Marine base in San Diego in front of a hangar full of uniformed troops.

SHAPIRO: We were expecting rallies from both critics and supporters of President Trump's immigration policies. What was the reception like today?

ROTT: Well, the reception here at the military base was very warm, as you might imagine. It was even a little bit raucous. There was a lot of cheering as the president praised troops and promised to deliver more money and resources to the armed forces. The president's reception outside of here was mixed, as you might expect. There were protests against the border wall and the president's visit here today. His motorcade passed a few protesters on its way to the border while holding signs saying, no wall, no hate, no Trump. There were also supporters of Trump gathered to wave flags and cheer him on, so to speak. Here's Jeff Schwilk at a rally for President Trump.


JEFF SCHWILK: We want that border secured.


SCHWILK: We are getting really close to having President Trump's wall (inaudible) really close. This is the next step. He's inspecting them. They will choose one. Let's get the contract out and let's get some wall up.

SHAPIRO: So how close is he to getting some wall up?

ROTT: Well, that's the $18-some billion question.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

ROTT: There's no real clear timeframe for construction still. Funding for the wall has stalled in Congress. And there are other environmental and political challenge the president still has to navigate, including getting cities like San Diego, which has formally moved to denounce the wall, on board.

SHAPIRO: It seems like California has opposed President Trump on nearly every major issue. Is this visit going to affect that dynamic in any way?

ROTT: I'd say that's a strong no. California Governor Jerry Brown definitely took a less combative tone yesterday, saying he wanted to build bridges, not walls during the president's visit. But Trump lashed out at Brown today, saying the Democrat is managing the state terribly. He's raising taxes, driving people away. So, yeah, I don't think it's going to - it doesn't equate to being an olive branch by any stretch of the imagination.

SHAPIRO: And President Trump is also attending a fundraiser in Beverly Hills for his re-election campaign. We're not even in the midterms yet. Tell us about this event.

ROTT: So it's a private event. I'm not sure who's going to be on the guest list. I do know that it's an expensive dinner at a minimum of $35,000 per plate. The Republican Party is helping to organize the event, and it should be pretty well-attended. I know California is a blue state, but there are a lot of wealthy conservative pockets here, and Trump has had success raising money here before. Remember; he owns a house in Beverly Hills. So he could always posit it as helping out a neighbor.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Nathan Rott covering President Trump's first visit to California. Thanks, Nate.

ROTT: Thank you, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.