The White House on Monday night canceled President Donald Trump’s planned visit of the U.S.-Mexico border near Yuma, Arizona because of unspecified ‘security concerns,’ according to an administration official with knowledge of the decision.
Citing administration officials, Reuters reported Monday evening that Trump would ‘visit a section of a U.S.-Mexican border fence in Arizona on Tuesday.’
The White House’s official schedule for today, however, calls only for ‘a tour of U.S. Customs and Border Protection equipment’ inside an airport hangar and a meet-and-greet with U.S. Marines at Air Station Yuma, part of the same airport complex.
The president will never stray far from his custom Boeing 747, even though the nearest border crossing that could provide him a firsthand look at a border-control success story is just 15 miles to the west.
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for further information.
STAYING AT THE AIRPORT: President Donald Trump’s advisers have nixed a plan for him to visit U.S.-Mexico border fencing in person on Tuesday, with one official citing unspecified ‘security concerns’
Cross bars make up the border fence in Yuma, an example of a success story in the war against illegal immigration – but Trump will not visit it for a photo-op despite being a short motorcade ride away
The president will see border patrol tools and meet officers in the region where Arizona meets Mexico, in Yuma, but he’ll never leave the airport complex where Air Force One lands
But a fact-sheet from the White House makes it clear that Trump will be ‘visiting law enforcement defending our borders,’ and not the borders themselves.
‘Today, President Donald J. Trump is seeing first-hand the people and tools restoring law and order to our southern border,’ the White House said.
The Yuma stop is phase one of a three-part return to Arizona on Tuesday, his first visit to the border state since winning the Oval Office last November.
Trump is seeking congressional funding for the wall he wants built along the U.S.-Mexico border.
From there it’s on to Phoenix and a rally at a convention center that can accommodate 29,000 people, and a Trump campaign aide in Phoenix told DailyMail.com on Tuesday that a full house is expected.
There could be even more people outside the venue protesting the Republican president.
Trump has struggled to persuade the GOP-led Congress to approve funding for his wall, a project many in Washington see as unnecessary but which his base views as a hallmark promise.
‘The president tonight is going to call on the Congress to step up and move an agenda forward,’ Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday in an interview on ‘Fox & Friends.’
The border area at Yuma is considered a success story for the U.S. Border Patrol because illegal crossings have slowed dramatically as a result of the border fence installation there, in 2007.
‘I’m very proud of what we’ve done on the border,’ Trump told reporters earlier in August. ‘We’re down 78 percent at the border, and nobody thought that was possible.’
Trump, pictured leaving the White House on Tuesday, will travel to Arizona for a three-part visit
Tuesday’s centerpiece will be a campaign rally in Phoenix where as many as 29,000 people might show up to hear Trump speak. Pictured is part of the crowd that greeted then-candidate Trump at the same Phoenix venue in October 2016
‘The president tonight is going to call on the Congress to step up and move an agenda forward,’ Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday in an interview on ‘Fox & Friends’
A Department of Homeland Security official told reporters on Tuesday that ‘what was once one of the least secure border areas in America is now one of the most secure areas because of those investments in border security.’
A second Homeland Security official added that Yuma was an example of how adding barriers at the border could lower unlawful immigration.
‘Going from having only five miles of fence to having over 60 miles of fence including vehicle barriers made a huge difference in just a short amount of time,’ the official said.
Instead of seeing those miles of fencing firsthand, he will tour a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol hangar and see some of the equipment used to monitor the border, including a Predator drone, a patrol boat and a surveillance truck.
The Yuma-area border has seen a dramatic decrease in illegal crossings since 2007 when fencing was added to the natural barrier provided by the Colorado River
During his visit, Trump will be briefed on border patrol efforts in the region and the need for more funding for immigration and border officials to carry out the Republican president’s desire for sharp limits on illegal immigration, the officials said.
The proposed border wall, aimed at preventing illegal immigration to the United States, was one of Trump’s major 2016 campaign promises.
His vow that Mexico would pay for the wall, which the Mexican government has insisted it will not do, has strained relations between the two neighbors.
Trump has since said he will find a way for Mexico to repay the United States for construction of the wall but that Congress would need to fund it first.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, asked Trump last week to postpone Tuesday’s rally in light of his response to the street battles that broke out earlier this month at a protest against the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville.
Trump was widely criticized for blaming both white nationalists and counter-protesters for the violence at the rally organized by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. One woman was killed in the melee, and two law-enforcement officers died in a helicopter crash.
‘America is hurting. And it is hurting largely because Trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline,’ Stanton wrote in The Washington Post. ‘With his planned visit to Phoenix on Tuesday, I fear the president may be looking to light a match.’
Republican Governor Doug Ducey told the Arizona Republic on Monday that he would welcome Trump on the tarmac when he arrived but would not attend the campaign rally.
Trump has clashed with Arizona’s two Republican U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, on various issues.
Trump announced the rally just last week
Trump, then a fledgling Republican primary hopeful, delivered a fire-and-brimstone speech in Phoenix in July 2015 that set the tone for his immigration policy – and his take-no-prisoners approach to politics
Both lawmakers are critics of the president. It was McCain who cast the vote that derailed Trump’s effort to repeal the Obamacare law.
Trump may announce his endorsement of Flake’s likely Republican primary challenger on Tuesday night.
‘Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate,’ Trump tweeted on Thursday. ‘He’s toxic!’
Adding to the tension, Trump said earlier this month that he was considering pardoning Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff found guilty of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case.
It’s unclear whether Arpaio will be in attendance at the Phoenix rally. A Trump pardon would represent the earliest use of presidential clemency powers in an administration since George H.W. Bush in 1989.
The nationwide controversy over Civil War monuments has oddly spilled into Arizona in recent weeks, with Ducey facing repeated calls to take down a handful of Confederate memorials in the state that didn’t exist until 47 years after the Civil War ended.
Then-candidate Trump was joined by Joe Arpaio, then the sheriff of metro Phoenix, at a campaign event in Marshalltown, Iowa in January 2016. With Trump coming back to Arizona at a crucial moment in his presidency, Arpaio could be the beneficiary of his first presidential pardon
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wanted Trump to stay away from his city
And an overlooked item in Trump’s agenda, school choice, has made education a hot campaign issue in Arizona.
With the strong support of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Arizona passed the nation’s most ambitious expansion of vouchers this year, and public school advocates recently submitted more than 100,000 signatures in a petition drive to get the law wiped out on the 2018 ballot.
Phoenix was in some ways the city that first put Trump on the road from entertainer to serious political force.
Just a few weeks into his candidacy, he delivered a July 2015 speech there in which he savaged his critics and the media, vowed to fine Mexico $100,000 for each immigrant entering the country illegally, talked tough on trade, promised to return America to its winning ways and borrowed a line from Richard Nixon in declaring, ‘The silent majority is back.’
With that, the blustery and sometimes belligerent Republican made his mark and never looked back.