AFP covers peaceful south-Texas rally; hundreds laud president’s efforts.
By Mark Anderson
ALAMO, Texas—Hundreds of Donald Trump supporters braved unseasonably chilly weather Jan. 12, near the border town of Alamo, Texas, in Hidalgo County, to greet the president as he visited the area to christen “the 450th mile” of new or upgraded border wall sections—which represents roughly one-fifth of the 1,954-mile U.S. border with Mexico. Some far-flung border areas, as Mr. Trump and others have pointed out, have natural barriers like mountains, cliffs, and canyons that won’t necessarily require sections of wall.
President Trump landed that day in Air Force One at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, a former military airfield, before Marine One helicopter took him west to Miller International Airport in McAllen. He then traveled via his armored limousine to Alamo. Standing along a section of Highway 281 that was temporarily closed to thru traffic, his supporters cheered with considerable revelry and without any unlawful incidents. Security was light.
After Marine One and three military escort planes roared over this writer’s neighborhood en route to McAllen, it was clearly time to head south to see how many people might cheer at, or possibly jeer at, Mr. Trump. Between Donna and Alamo, there were several new or improved wall sections visible to the south as were about 10 tall cranes used for putting the sections into place.
Most of the Trump supporters waited three to four hours to get a glimpse of his limo and let him know he’s loved in an increasingly conservative area that’s been deemed irredeemably “blue” by the area’s myopic media. The crowd of hundreds consisted of both Hispanic and “Anglo” Americans, as European-rooted whites are often called here in the Rio Grande Valley. Some traveled from as far away as Houston. Everybody got along well and boldly declared their support of Trump.
Vern (many at the rally preferred not to give their last names due to the fallout from the D.C. rally), a resident of Alamo, when asked about the media’s treatment of President Trump stemming from his remarks during the massive Jan. 6 rally in Washington, replied:
Super harsh. They don’t listen to what he says; they interpret what he says to harm him. We need to do something about this big media problem. I just get so disgusted with them and I just can’t watch them. Trump snuck in there; he didn’t owe anybody any favors and he exposed the swamp. And we need to go after the Big Tech companies also.
Gloria, a Hispanic woman, expressed concern about the stereotyping of Hispanics, as the media tries to pigeonhole them into a seamless pro-Biden voting bloc. “They always say that white people, or ‘white supremacists,’ are the ones who support President Trump. But you know what? The Valley is here to support our president. The Latinos, the Mexicanos—any kind of race is here to support our president.” She added that the Democrats “are providing for them [illegal aliens] to enter here . . . but we all have to enter here legally, which is the right thing to do.”
Just beyond the eyeshot and earshot of rally-goers, President Trump spent about 45 minutes by the border wall. “They said it couldn’t be done. And we got it done—one of the largest infrastructure projects in the history of our country,” he remarked while standing with the wall behind him, as documented by C-SPAN cameras. “It’s steel; it’s concrete inside the steel and it’s lots of heavy rebar inside the concrete,” along with a “climb plate” near the top designed to make the barrier much harder to climb over.
And while Trump was aghast at the very idea, however remote, that any future administration would even think of taking the wall down, he remarked, “When I took office, I inherited a dysfunctional, open border. Everybody was pouring in, at will.” But, he said, after key reforms were made, “we achieved the most secure border in U.S. history.” An additional 300 miles, he announced, are “in construction or pre-construction.”
Everywhere wall sections were built, he continued, “illegal crossings and drug smuggling have plummeted. In the Rio Grande Valley, crossings have dropped nearly 80%. In Yuma, Ariz. illegal entries have been slashed by 90%. Nationwide, ICE and Border Patrol have seized nearly two million pounds of fentanyl, heroin, meth, and other deadly narcotics. . . . We’ve arrested nearly 500,000 illegal aliens . . . some with very serious criminal records. . . . We’ve removed nearly 20,000 gang members from the U.S., including 4,500 members of MS-13, probably the worst gang of them all. . . . Now instead of ‘catch and release,’ we have ‘detain and remove’.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Email him at [email protected].