WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump embarks Friday on his third trip to California since entering the White House, a day after backing off his latest threat to seal off the border between Mexico and the United States.
Trump had been threatening to close the border for a week, leading some to believe he would use Friday’s visit to a section of fencing in Calexico to announce at least a partial closure.
Closing the entire 2,000-mile border is next to impossible, and even closing some of the 47 official entry ports could be economically devastating, Trump’s advisers and some prominent Republican senators warned him.
Instead, Trump will head to Calexico in retreat, left to argue his case for a border emergency immediately after withdrawing one of his flashiest threats of reprisal against the Mexican government, which he has accused of failing to cooperate with U.S. immigration policies.
The administration wants Mexico to more aggressively stop Central Americans from traveling north through Mexican territory to seek asylum in the U.S.
The administration is touting the section of border fence he is visiting as “a newly completed section of the promised border wall.”
In fact, Trump has not completed any new sections of wall on the border. The bollard fencing in Calexico is a replacement of a dilapidated barrier that was first built decades ago.
Trump, in his first presidential visit to California last March, viewed a set of eight border wall prototypes, each of which cost between $300,000 and $500,000. None of those prototypes have since been used.
Rather than building any of the solid, concrete wall structures Trump often described during the campaign, the administration so far has used fencing to replace older barriers, much as the Obama administration did.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced in February that the prototypes Trump visited would be coming down to make way for a secondary barrier.
In addition to Trump’s public visit to the border, he is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles to attend two fundraising events. He plans to stay in Las Vegas on Friday night before attending a fundraising event and delivering a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday.
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