Latin America

Civil rights groups dismiss Trump’s trip to Texas-Mexico border

Activists say Republican presidential contender only wants to conduct a “reality show”

Donald Trump greets supporters in South Carolina on Tuesday.
Donald Trump greets supporters in South Carolina on Tuesday.B. Morton (AP)

Civil rights organizations have categorized plans by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump to visit the US-Mexican border in Laredo, Texas later Thursday as “a reality show,” full of ignorant and empty rhetoric.

Trump, who has been insulting his Republican rivals this week but continues to be the frontrunner in his party’s race for the nomination, has made illegal immigration from Mexico one of his top campaign issues.

The billionaire was invited by a US Border Patrol officer who has been critical of his agency’s policies

The controversial billionaire was invited earlier this month to speak to local law enforcement officials by US Border Patrol Agent Hector Garza, who has been critical of the federal agency’s policies. Garza, who heads the local union chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, said he wanted Trump to get a first-hand look at the problems in securing the US frontier.

“This federal agency can’t even secure its own parking lot because of the explosion in the number of illegal immigrants,” he said.

Garza had also invited Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who is also running for his party’s presidential nomination, as well as other lawmakers in early July.

But it was the Trump campaign that on Tuesday announced it would travel to Texas so its candidate could learn in person about the problems border agents face each day in dealing with the influx of illegal immigrants.

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Trump sparked outrage on June 16 when he accused Mexico of only sending over “drug traffickers,” “rapists,” and “murderers” to the United States, and vowed to build a big border wall and demand that Mexico “pays for it.” He said illegal migration from the south was one of the biggest national security problems.

Trump is expected to expand on those remarks in Laredo.

The comments made as he announced his candidacy sparked a wave of protests from the Latino-Hispanic community in the United States. Businesses, such as department store chain Macy’s and the Univision Spanish-language television network, quickly cut their ties with the Trump Organization.

While he continues to remain unapologetic, Trump also this week began angering many Republicans by questioning Arizona Senator John McCain’s status as a Vietnam War hero. McCain was imprisoned and tortured for five years by the Viet Cong and is partially disabled.

Trump also gave out South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham’s cellphone number at a public rally after the lawmaker called him “the world’s biggest jackass.”

The El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights, an advocacy group for immigration reform and the protection of illegal migrants, described Trump’s visit to Laredo as a “political reality show.”

The Texas Organizing Project advocacy group said Trump only wants to confuse voters

“This goes to demonstrate his complete ignorance on the issue,” said Fernando García, the organization’s executive director. “This is a political ploy so that he can generate fear among the public and promote himself. He wants to continue distorting the image of immigrants.”

Mary Moreno, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based Texas Organizing Project, another advocacy group, said Trump only wanted to confuse voters.

“We would like for him to see the businesses, the life and the amount of security along the border. But we know he isn’t here on a truth mission and will continue making statements to generate controversy and attract public attention,” she said.

Trump has also attacked former Texas Governor Rick Perry, another of his opponents in the Republican nomination race, calling his border security policies “terrible.”

Perry shot back by saying that Trump’s remarks were good for “a reality show” but did not serve to solve the border issue.

English version by Martin Delfin.

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