2:02 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT: So, behind us is the wall. That’s the new wall. We’ve done a lot of it, and we’re doing a lot more. You see it over here. This is, unfortunately, a protection that I guess you need, because you don’t know who’s on the other side of the border. I hope it works. This is just a concrete protector.
But the wall behind it — and you see it all the way down, and we’re going to be building — we’ve already built a lot of it. It looks great. It’s better and much more effective than the previous wall. And we actually can do it faster, and it’s less expensive, if you can believe it. So it’s better, faster, and less expensive. Other than that, who knows.
Thank you all for being here. This is a great stretch of wall. You see where it’s going. And this is going all the way up, and much of it just like this. We have different — different walls. We have some that are holding back water, so obviously this doesn’t do that trick. But we have a lot of big concrete divisions that hold back various parcels of water. We have a lot of water going up.
But this is — I would say the majority would be in this style. And some of it’s 30 feet, some of it’s 15 feet, some of it’s 12 feet, depending on the area. Much of it’s reinforced heavily. And very, very hard to climb. If you want to climb that, it’s pretty sharp up on top, too. If you want to climb that, you deserve whatever you can get. But it’s very, very hard. It’s meant anti-climb. It’s called “anti-climb.”
So it’s a great wall, and it looks — I think it looks fantastic. Very see-through, so you’re able to see the other side, which is a very important element. Okay?
Q Do you have any response to lawsuits filed by California and other states?
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. No, you know what’s interesting about California: They’re begging me for the wall in San Diego. You know what. Because the people were pouring through in San Diego, going over the front lawns, going into people’s houses. So they want the wall done in San Diego. And we did it, and then you hear they don’t want the wall. They want the wall. If you ever took it down — they wanted that one so badly, and we did it. We did a great job. We stopped everybody virtually — actually, everybody from coming over. It was a tremendous success.
But California is always the first one to complain. And I don’t mean the people of California; they’re fantastic. I’m talking about the politicians in California. They complain. When their forests go up, they complain. They got to take care of their forests a lot better. But when the wall — they want the wall in San Diego but then they’re always — they’re always the first one. So they were the first one to pull the National Guard, and they need the National Guard, especially in California.
So we’re very proud of this. As you know, this area is an area that a lot of people used to come through. And since we’ve had it up, Kevin, I think not one person has been able to come through. These people can speak to it better than — come on over here. You guys are my friends. Come on over here. Say hello to the fake news, fellas. Fake news.
Q Mr. President, this morning, when you spoke of your ICE nominee and his withdrawal, you spoke about going in a tougher direction.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to see what happens. We want to have people — we want to have everything just perfecto. We’ll see what happens. But we may be going —
Q (Inaudible) direction?
THE PRESIDENT: We may be going in a different — you’ll be seeing very soon. We may be going in a different direction.
If anybody wants to speak up about this. So we just got this up. And I’d like you to — Gloria, if you would. Gloria. Maybe you’ll say a few words.
AGENT CHAVEZ: Thank you, Mr. President. You know, as the Chief here in El Centro, we’re very appreciative of this wall. These men and women, out here in this area of two miles, were experiencing a high number of assaults and use-of-force incidents. This was prior to this wall being built.
This is a 30-foot border wall that are a pillar — pillar bollards. And you can see through it. For us, it’s a huge advantage to see what’s on the other side. Because before, with the old landing mat, we could not see the adversary. We couldn’t see the threat that was on that side. We would get rocked constantly. We would get items thrown at us every day. With this 30-foot wall, we haven’t had those type of incidents.
Just here, in these two miles, our assaults have dropped by 65 percent, just in this area. That’s very important to me as a chief, because I don’t want our agents hurt. I want them out here protecting the country and doing their job. In these two miles, just illegal entries alone have dropped by 75 percent, just in this area.
Yes, the wall is here, and people have — and maybe around it are breaching the area, they’re coming around. But that’s okay.
THE PRESIDENT: The only way, by the way — and the only way they get in is by going around it; they’re not going over it because you have a lot of tremendous people watching. They can’t get the ladders and go over it. Plus, it’s very dangerous. It’s very high to go over it.
So when Gloria says “65 percent,” this is 100 percent, but when they go down further. But we’re going further and further out. Every day, we’re building more wall and we’re going further and further. And you’ll be at 99.9, I predict.
AGENT CHAVEZ: Well, we will. And we have about 11 miles, Mr. President. Thank you for that. The construction starts with this type of wall in June of this year.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. It’s going this year?
AGENT CHAVEZ: Yep. It will.
SECRETARY NIELSEN: And, sir, we have one of our sheriffs here that are fabulous, fabulous partners, (inaudible) thankful for.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Please. Sheriffs, come on over here. That’s central casting. You can’t cast — you don’t have anybody in Hollywood that looks like these guys.
SHERIFF YOUNGBLOOD: I’m a sheriff from the Central Valley of California, and I have three other Central Valley sheriffs. We feel this impact from 400 miles away. Each of us have experienced heinous crimes that are committed by people in our country illegally. And I just want to take this opportunity to thank this President for doing the right thing and standing up for law enforcement in this country. It is greatly appreciated and I just wanted you to know that.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. We’re with you 100 percent.
SHERIFF YOUNGBLOOD: Hi, Congressman.
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER MCCARTHY: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: He got a good one. He got a good one.
Q Sir, can you identify yourself?
SHERIFF YOUNGBLOOD: I’m Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Kern County.
THE PRESIDENT: This is a great group of people. Sheriff, say something if you’d like.
SHERIFF LAMB: So we don’t have — on the south end of our county, Pinal County, Arizona, we border here with Pima County. And together, we’re constantly working to try to fight the drug trafficking and the human trafficking that’s coming into this country.
A couple weeks ago, I was in the Oval Office, and we issued a challenge for the congressmen and women and senators to come down here and see the border. I appreciate our President leading by example and coming down here. You can see the benefits of the wall, and hopefully, as we progress with this, we’ll start to see those effects in our county as well. Because we’re fighting this every day — the human trafficking and drug trafficking. And I know Sheriff Napier out of Pima County can talk a little bit more about that.
SHERIFF NAPIER: Well, good afternoon. I’m Mark Napier. I’m the sheriff for Pima County, Arizona. I am the largest border county in the United States. The strategic deployment of physical barriers along our southern border will always be part of the picture of border security, which is absolutely fundamentally necessary for humanitarian reasons, public safety reasons, and also for national security reasons.
Anyone who would suggest that we do not have a crisis on our southern border is being intellectually dishonest to the point of being dishonest with malice. We have a humanitarian crisis, which is very clear and compelling. We have a compelling crisis of public safety with human trafficking, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, coming up through the border.
This is not make-believe. This is something that we live with every day as border sheriffs.
So we applaud the efforts of the current administration to secure our border. It’s long overdue. And those who would argue that we do not have a crisis on our southern border need to come to my part of the world and see what’s really going on. We interdicted 58 pounds of methamphetamine just the other day, and last month, 13,000 fentanyl pills. My deputies recover about 100 bodies a year in the deserts of Pima County, Arizona.
So please do not tell me this is not a public safety crisis, not a humanitarian crisis, and not a national security concern.
So this is a very serious issue, and it’s time our government got serious about it. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: And they don’t come here, the people that are opposed. Mostly Democrats. I mean, Republicans are for it. But mostly Democrats, they don’t come here.
SHERIFF LAMB: And we’re open to it.
THE PRESIDENT: And we want them. We want them to come here. We could to take you to sections. Now it looks nice and calm because we have the wall. But if you would have seen this before we put the wall up, you wouldn’t have believed it. But we could take you to sections that are so dangerous that you can’t walk through them, okay? You can’t walk through them.
So thank you very much, all of you.
SECRETARY NIELSEN: Sir, we also have —
THE PRESIDENT: Please.
SECRETARY NIELSEN: — Pete Flores here to come talk about the ports of entry and field ops.
THE PRESIDENT: Please, say a few words.
MR. FLORES: Good afternoon. Pete Flores. I’m the Director for Field Operations for the San Diego Field Office. My AOR consists of all the California/Mexico ports of entry, along with the airport and seaport in San Diego.
I can tell you, from our perspective, as we talk comprehensive border security, what border security means, national security: At our ports of entry, where we have — last year, we did 79.3 million travelers come through our port of entry. We also did $50 billion worth of trade that came through our ports of entry just northbound, on what we see down here.
So the additional investment in officers, the additional investment in technology, in II equipment, our x-ray equipment, and what we have — our ability to scan, screen, and inspect is a tremendous investment in how we do business on the border and securing our border, as well as allowing for the facilitation of legitimate trade and travel. Thank you for that.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Fantastic job.
Q I’m Jenny Day with the local media here in Calexico. We have been covering this now for months.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Thank you.
Q I’m just curious, though: So many of these migrants are crossing illegally. So how would shutting down the southern border help if they’re crossing illegally and not through ports of entry?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to shut it down if we have to. But Mexico can do it very easily. And they’ve been — as you know, Jenny, they’ve been doing a very good job over the last four days. I will tell you, we’re going to shut it down if we have to. We’re going to tariff the cars coming in that they make in Mexico, if we have to. But Mexico has been doing a great job.
I want to thank the President of Mexico. He’s the first one. He’s really been doing a job. He’s helping Mexico too, not only economically and not only because I won’t be forced to shut it down or do the tariffs, but he really is helping Mexico. He’s doing a great thing for his country.
So I want to thank — through your camera, I want to thank him, the President of Mexico. Thank you.
Q If we could ask: We’ve seen the letter that your lawyers have sent about your tax returns. Is there anything you’d like to say about it, explain?
THE PRESIDENT: Nothing whatsoever. Nothing whatsoever. I have nothing to say about it. I got elected. They elected me. Now they keep going. I’m under audit. When you’re under audit, you don’t do it. But I’m under audit. Other people are under audit, and nobody would do it when you are going through an audit. And I always go through audits. They audit me all the time. I don’t know if they audit you, Sheriff. I don’t know, do they audit you people? (Laughter.) I don’t think these people ever get audited. They’d be afraid to audit you people.
But — so that’s it. Any other questions?
Q Mr. President, will you talk to Attorney General Barr before his testimony? Will you talk to him at all about his discussion —
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. But I think he’s doing a fantastic job. I think he’s a fantastic Attorney General. He is so respected in the Department of Justice and by these people. It’s what we need. He’s a great gentleman.
Thank you very much, everybody. We’ll see you back at the next stop.
2:13 P.M. PDT