Politicians, groups blast Trump and proposed border wall
March 13--A San Diego congressman and city councilwoman stood with immigration rights and community groups, as well as faith and labor leaders Monday to denounce President Donald Trump and his border-wall proposal -- a day before his visit to San Diego to inspect project prototypes.
"We don't need his racist walls," Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee's U.S.-Mexico border program, said at a news conference in Barrio Logan's Chicano Park.
In his first visit to San Diego since his inauguration, Trump is expected to head to Otay Mesa on Tuesday for a close-up look at eight prototypes of a wall he said he wants to put up along the country's southern border with Mexico.
The planned visit and the wall have drawn criticism and protest in some corners, and on Monday, about three dozen activists stood together on the park's stage to decry both. Later in the afternoon, roughly 100 people -- many chanting and carrying signs -- took to the streets of downtown San Diego to rail against the wall and Trump's immigration rhetoric.
The wall has long been a polarizing issue. Promises to build the barrier became a rallying point during Trump's campaign, and attendees at his rallies routinely chanted "build the wall."
During the late morning news conference, Rios called the planned wall "a waste of our resources."
Among those at the news conference was U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), whose 51st Congressional District runs along the U.S.-Mexico border from the ocean to Arizona. He talked of perils to undocumented people who try to illegally slip across the border to enter the U.S.
"He wants to spend $25, $30 billion on a wall that will lead to absolutely nothing but more deaths," Vargas said.
Vargas also had a message: Trump "is not welcome here."
Trump's visit comes as California and his administration have been at odds, particularly over immigration issues. Last week, the federal government sued the state, arguing that California laws limiting the state's cooperation with federal immigration authorities are unconstitutional.
San Diego City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez said "we are going to fight" the planned wall. "And we are going to do whatever it takes so that it doesn't get built,"she said.
Last September, the San Diego City Council approved a resolution opposing the wall.
"Instead of talking about a wall, we should be talking about healing our border," Gomez said.
Alliance San Diego director Christopher Rice-Wilson said the proposed barrier is "pushing walls on people and places who don't want them." He said the money would be better spent on infrastructure.
The pushback continued at a peaceful rally that political group Union Del Barrio hosted near the federal building in downtown San Diego late Monday afternoon.
A series of speakers addressed the crowd, which then marched down Broadway and Market Street while waving signs and chanting. Dozens of San Diego police officers on bicycles and motorcycles blocked traffic as the demonstrators took to the streets.
While one counter protester waved a sign that read "Trump forever" out of the driver's side window of a black car, most passing motorists honked in a show of solidarity with the demonstrators.
"It's important for Donald Trump to be aware that there's organized resistance in San Diego," Rios said after the downtown rally. "Organized resistance is a way for us to ensure that we develop a political platform that responds to the attacks to our community."
Trump expected to get first close-up look at border-wall prototypes
7:50 p.m.: This story was updated with information from the afternoon rally in downtown San Diego.
4:45 p.m.: This story was updated with additional details. It was originally published at 2:40 p.m.