US President Donald Trump will visit the state of California for the first time on Tuesday, where thousands of people are expected to take to the streets to rally both for and against his immigration policy.
Since taking office little more than a year ago, Trump has avoided visiting the Golden State – no small feat given that it makes up 1/8th of the total US population with over 39 million people and is a driving economic force in the country.
But it is also unsurprising for an administration that likely views California as hostile territory. The state’s Democratic leadership has openly opposed Trump on a range of issues, not least of all immigration and his plans to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Just last week, Governor Jerry Brown declared that the White House was “basically going to war” with California after Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued the state over three new laws protecting immigrants, arguing they were unconstitutional.
Trump flies into San Diego – which lies across the border from Mexico – at around 11:30am Tuesday, where he will view eight prototypes for his proposed wall at the Otay Mesa border crossing. Afterwards, he is scheduled to give a speech at the local Miramar military base before heading to Los Angeles for a Republican fundraising dinner in Beverley HIlls.
Even before Trump touched down, hundreds of people gathered in San Diego on Monday to protest against his visit. The speaker of the California State Senate, Democrat Kevin De Leon, led a separate rally in Los Angeles to denounce ”Trump’s politics of discrimination and bigotry”.
Further rallies – both for and against the president – are expected to draw thousands of people the day of his arrival. Demonstrations have also been planned across the border in Tijuana.
Organisers on both sides have called for peaceful protests amid fears of violence after a brawl broke out during a “Build the Wall” rally in Otay Mesa on December 9, 2017. Meanwhile the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has taken measures to restrict access to the area where Trump will view the wall prototypes.
Despite heightened tensions, Trump’s White House has done little to alleviate the situation before his visit. On Monday, it published a strongly worded post on its news blog, 1600 Daily, entitled “California’s Resistance” in which it applauded Attorney General Session’s recent lawsuit against the state.
“For far too long, California has obstructed Federal law and put the interests of criminals who are in United States illegally ahead of the well-being of American citizens,” the post said. At the bottom, a link invited readers to view “more stories of the life-and-death consequences of California’s resistance to Federal law”.
The same day, Governor Brown sent Trump a pointed letter reminding him of California’s influence as an economic powerhouse. Quoting former Republican president George W. Bush, Brown drew a direct link between his state’s and the country’s welfare.
“The Golden State – the sixth largest economy in the world – is thriving,” Brown wrote. “Yet our prosperity is not built on isolation. Quite the opposite. California thrives because we welcome immigrants and innovators from across the globe."
“You see, in California, we are focusing on bridges, not walls. And that’s more than just a figure of speech."
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)
Date created : 2018-03-13