President Trump made his first public appearance since the siege on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump extremists last week. He delivered a speech next to a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border wall near the city of Alamo, in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
The trip was meant to highlight the work completed on the wall during his time in office.
But many in the Valley have been worried about clashes between Trump supporters and those who planned to protest against him, especially after last week’s violence in Washington. The FBI recently warned that armed protests are planned in all 50 states and the U.S. capital leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration.
“There are a lot of concerns,” said Sandra Sanchez, South Texas correspondent with Nexstar Media’s borderreport.com, hours before Trump’s speech. “We’ve heard that there will be Trump trains that will be departing from a couple different locations here in South Texas. And I know that many dozen cars were already coming from the Laredo area. The Laredo No Border Wall Coalition was teaming up with LUPE – La Union del Pueblo Entero – to also launch protests here. So this sets the stage for potentially a lot of activity happening here.”
— Sandra Sanchez (@SandraESanchez) January 12, 2021
Sanchez says Trump’s visit to that wall location near Alamo is symbolic.
“This is an area, a part of the country, that, in 2017, the start of his term, he wanted to begin the border wall here. The first place he wanted to start was Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge,” she said. “And I think it’s interesting that he’s basically coming full circle, back to where he began, the last week of his term to kind of, to tout his signature project.”
Elected officials in the area, including McAllen Mayor Jim Darling and Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez put out statements ahead of Trump’s visit, urging the public to follow COVID-19 precautions if they planned to protest, and to also stay calm. The leaders sidestepped calls from various nonprofits, groups like LUPE, as well as by citizens, asking them to denounce the president’s visit.