Donald Trump visited San Diego, California on Tuesday to inspect prototypes of his proposed controversial $20 billion wall across the Mexican border.
But the reception awaiting the mercurial leader was not all pleasant, even as he justified the wall as a necessity to protect America against a ‘bedlam’.
Ahead of the visit, a few dozen people gathered for a pro-Trump rally on the US side of the border near the prototypes, while a similar number of the president’s detractors came to the San Ysidro border post.
The anti-Trump protesters on the other side of the border, vented their frustration, and announced plans to boycott US businesses over the frontier. The federal police had to persuade them not to burn a yellow-haired pinata in Trump’s likeness.
Pointing to one of the prototypes towering behind the corrugated metal border fence, Eladio Sanchez, 30, admitted that it might slow him down, but noted: “You can get over it anyway.”
There were other protesters against the wall inside San Diego.
Demonstrators draped themselves in US flags and waved placards emblazoned with slogans such as “Humpty Trumpty will fall off his wall,” “Resist unstable idiot,” and “No hate in the Golden State.”
They appeared to have been inspired by the city’s Democrats for Environmental Action.
“This is an environmental catastrophe, on top of a misallocation of government resources that could be used for health care or social services,” Cody Petterson, president of the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, said of the wall.
Among Trump’s supporters, Kira Innis, 31, said she was backing Trump “because he doesn’t give a good gosh darn about somebody’s color, he cares about putting more green in their pocket.”
Trump appeared not bothered by the mixed reactions to his planned wall, yet to be approved by Congress.
Trump inspected eight 30-foot high (nine-meter) full-scale models made of concrete and steel, erected side-by-side at Otay Mesa, an area in southern San Diego along the border with Tijuana, Mexico.
Each prototype cost more than $300,000 and, according to some estimates, the complete wall could carry a $20 billion price tag.
Trump repeated his insistence that law enforcement personnel should be able to see through the structure so that they could monitor criminal cartels that might be “two foot away” on the Mexican side.
“Without a wall there would be bedlam, I imagine,” he added.
The border with Mexico stretches nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) and about a third of it already has some type of barrier or wall.
Trump’s visit to California was his first since he became US President last year January. The Golden state, America’s largest is controlled by the Democrats.