As Trump pulls back on a border wall, some aren’t pleased

A boy runs up toward the U.S. border fence from his backyard in San Benito in June. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

Like the twisting Rio Grande, President Trump’s position on a border wall is changing course.

The president, who made the promise of a “big, beautiful border wall” one of the cornerstone promises of his campaign, significantly dialed back on the pledge Thursday, telling reporters that a 2,000-mile-long wall is no longer necessary “because you have a lot of natural barriers.”

“You have mountains. You have some rivers that are violent and vicious,” Trump said, according to excerpts released by the White House from the president’s conversation with journalists aboard Air Force One. “You have some areas that are so far away that you don’t really have people crossing. So, you don’t need that.”

Hmmm, that sounds a lot like Texas to us.

RELATED: “Why the border wall fences us in”

The president said he now believes only 700 to 900 miles of wall are needed. About 650 miles of the border with Mexico are already protected by fences or walls; many of those miles in Texas. Trump seemed to suggest that repairing fences already in place would count against the total miles he has in mind, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“You know, we’ve already started the wall because we’re fixing large portions of wall right now,” Trump said. “We’re taking wall that was good but it’s in very bad shape, and we’re making it new.”

At campaign rallies, where supporters’ chants of “build that wall” became a staple, Trump often talked about a wall 30 feet high running the length of the U.S.-Mexico border. But on Thursday the president described a new vision of a wall more closely resembling the fencing already up in places like South Texas, where, at least in some cases, fences hug residents’ back yards.

“You need transparency,” Trump said. “In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.”

Trump won the support of conservative groups who liked his tough campaign talk on immigration. Some clearly aren’t happy with his changing course on a border wall.

“We don’t have the rule of law when it comes to immigration,” Stephen Steinlight, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington told the Times. “It doesn’t exist. There’s immigration anarchy.”

His new position, however, is likely to go over better with some of the president’s prominent supporters in Texas, who think more border walls aren’t the answer on border security. They include Dennis Nixon, a well-known Laredo banking executive who had this to say to me recently about a border wall: “No serious person thinks you can build a wall from El Paso to Brownsville with any kind of reasonable expectation it will be successful.”

Nixon was the Texas finance chair for the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. Among other solutions, he advocates cleaning up dense vegetation along the Rio Grande so that border enforcement agents gain better access and visibility.

A final footnote on why Trump said a border wall needs openings, and we’ll leave it there.

“As horrible as it sounds,” Trump said, “when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.”

 

 

 

A Trump immigration curveball? More like whiplash

FILE- In this March 3, 2015 photo, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escort an arrestee in an apartment building, in the Bronx borough of New York, during a series of early-morning raids. New York City leaders are trying to strike a balance between purging dangerous criminals and protecting some of its roughly 500,000 undocumented immigrants. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
In this March 3, 2015 photo, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escort an arrestee in an apartment building, in the Bronx borough of New York, during a series of early-morning raids. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

When the stunning news broke late Tuesday that President Trump said he is open to an immigration overhaul allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally, one news organization called the president’s abrupt shift on immigration “a curveball.”

Curveball? More like whiplash maybe.

After all, what else are we to make of such a sudden reversal from the president’s hard-line crackdown on illegal immigration during his first weeks in office? Take, for example, last month’s sweeping Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Austin and across the country. And just last week, the administration unveiled new deportation rules allowing federal agents to go after anyone living in the country illegally, even if they haven’t committed serious crimes — a stark contrast to the Obama administration’s policies that placed a priority on deporting criminals.

RELATED EDITORIAL: Toughened Enforcement policies overlook immigrant contributions

“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” the president reportedly told TV news anchors at a White House meeting over lunch Tuesday.

Did this herald a new softer tone on immigration? Remember, this is the same Donald Trump whose rock concert-like campaign rallies reverberated with supporters’ chants of “build the wall!” on the U.S.-Mexico border. And Trump’s run for office began with a pledge to deport the nation’s estimated 11.1 million immigrants, something even those in his own party have described as unrealistic and bordering on fantasy.

Only a few hours after that meeting with the TV anchors, however, the president didn’t even mention in his first joint address to Congress that he might be receptive to an immigration overhaul giving legal status to millions of unauthorized immigrants.

In fact, Trump doubled down on aggressive enforcement, reiterating his campaign promise to begin building a border wall. “A great, great wall,” he called it.

And the president fell back on the familiar refrain of highlighting the crimes of undocumented immigrants, announcing that he has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to work with victims of crimes committed by immigrants who are in the country illegally.

After the speech to Congress, news analysts pounced on the chance to speculate why the president had not brought up his remarks earlier in the day about immigration. One said the president obviously had been reined in by his inner circle, who advised him that now is not the time.

But if not now, when? If the president couldn’t talk about immigration reform to a cheering audience dominated by those of his own party, then when? Certainly not at one of his rallies in places across the country, which Trump continues to hold even after his election, and where his legions of supporters continue their full-throated chant, “Build the Wall!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who made the list of Texans and Latinos at the DNC and RNC?

Texans, Latinos, and yes, Latino Texans. They were every bit present during the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Their numbers may not have been large, but they made strong appearances, leaving memorable remarks.

The Los Angeles Times, which broke down the list of scheduled convention orators for us, found that the DNC had nearly twice as many and more diverse speakers than the RNC. Not surprising.

DNC had 133 speakers of which 43 percent were women and 44 percent were nonwhite, according to the LA Times. Meanwhile, the RNC had a total of 71 speakers, of which 35 percent were women and 20 percent were nonwhite.

So how many were Texan? Latino? And Texan Latino?

LA Times said six Latinos spoke at the RNC and I found more than 20 took the stage at the DNC. From Austinite Robert Rodriguez (in video above) to Ted Cruz, Latino Texans made for some of the most unforgettable appearances at both conventions.

And while the Los Angeles Times did not have a count of speakers from the Lone Star State, at least five spoke at the DNC and three at the RNC.

There’s no surprise to find the lists lopsided in Latino and minority representation. One need only look to the party platforms to see why. The parties differ on everything from health insurance coverage to college education with most Latinos favoring the Democratic positions. But perhaps the most stark difference is on immigration in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls for the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants and the building of a wall stretching nearly the length of the southern border between Mexico. Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ candidate, calls for comprehensive immigration reform.

So, who exactly showed up at the conventions? Here’s a list — and links to some of the speeches:

AT THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION:

From Texas to the DNC:

  • U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (Houston) | Speech
  • Actress Eva Longoria (Corpus Christi) | Speech
  • Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (Austin / San Antonio) | Speech
  • U.S. Representative Joaquín Castro (San Antonio) | Speech
  • Sheriff Lupe Valdez (Dallas) | Speech

Latino representation at the DNC:

  • U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona
  • U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona
  • Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti of California
  • Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, California
  • State Senate President Kevin de León of California
  • U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra of California
  • U.S. Representatives Linda and Loretta Sánchez of California
  • State House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran of Colorado
  • U.S. Representative Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois
  • State Senator Ruben Kihuen of Nevada
  • U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico
  • U.S. Representative Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico
  • Hillary for America Latino Vote Director Lorella Praeli
  • Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader
  • National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen Garcia
  • Disability rights advocate Anastasia Somoza from New York
  • Immigration advocates mother and daughter Karla and Francisca Ortiz
  • DREAMer activist Astrid Silva
  • Jose Arraigada, speaking about the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting
  • Singer Demi Lovato
  • Actress America Ferrara
  • Musician Sheila E.

AT THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION:

From Texas to the RNC:

  • Former Governor of Texas Rick Perry (Austin) | Speech
  • U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (Austin) | Speech
  • U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (Houston) | Speech

Latino representation at the RNC:

  • U.S. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida
  • Kentucky state senator Ralph Alvarado Jr.
  • Libre Initiative spokesperson Rachel Campos-Duffy