SAN DIEGO -- President Donald Trump traveled to San Diego Tuesday to view prototypes of his proposed border wall, making the first trip of his administration to California.
The president's trip began at about 6:30 a.m. San Diego time when he left Washington aboard Air Force One. Before he left, he made it clear that he has deep differences with California's political leader with a tweet in which he called sanctuary policies in the sate "illegal and unconstitutional."
Air Force One touched down at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on schedule just before 11:30 a.m. The president disembarked from the plane and walked directly to Marine One, the helicopter that whisked the presidential entourage to Brown Field near the US-Mexico border. From there, the president traveled to the border via motorcade, where he spent about an hour viewing the eight 30-foot-high sample walls that were built to offer an array of options for the wall Trump has promised to erect along the U.S.-Mexico border. Some are solid concrete, while others are made from a blend of materials including metal slats -- which Trump said would be the best choice to secure the country's southern border.
"You have to have see-through. You have to know what's on the other side of the wall,'' Trump said. "You could be two feet away from a criminal cartel and not even know they're there.''
Trump said the wall should have metal slats at the bottom and concrete or a blend of steel and concrete at the top. It should also have a rounded top to deter people who would climb the wall in an attempt to enter the United States.
Trump used the opportunity to make his case for building a new wall to replace the corrugated metal barrier constructed along the San Diego border sector in the 1990s.
"We have a lousy wall now,'' Trump said. "When we put up the real wall, we're going to stop 99 percent (of illegal crossings), maybe more than that.''
The president called on Congress to pass funding for the wall. Construction estimates for the project on the entire 1,900-mile border range from $21.6 billion to $70 billion. He also criticized California leaders again for the state's policies toward undocumented immigrants and slammed Gov. Jerry Brown for the way he is leading the Golden State.
"I think Governor Brown has done a very poor job running California,'' Trump told reporters after touring border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa. "They have the highest taxes in the United States. The place is totally out of control."
While the president was touring the border, his supporters and opponents rallied in the border communities of San Ysidro and Otay Mesa. Chanting "build that wall'' and "we love Trump,'' a group of at least 100 supporters of the president and his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border gathered in Otay Mesa. Meanwhile, anti-Trump protesters gathered near the Plaza Las Americas mall in San Ysidro with signs including "love has no borders'' and "no hate in the Golden State.''
After delivering scripted remarks accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the president flew back to MCAS Miramar, where he spoke to thousands of Marines from the air station and Camp Pendleton, as well as troops representing the four other branches of the military.
During the speech, which started at about 2 p.m., the president promised to give troops a pay raise and to buy new military aircraft. He also pledged to push for more space exploration, including a trip to Mars.
The president reboarded Air Force One and left MCAS Miramar at about 2:40 p.m. for the short flight to Los Angeles International Airport. He was scheduled to appear at a Republican fundraiser in Beverly Hills, followed by a meeting with supporters on the Republican National Committee.