LIVE BLOG: Trump Praises Troops, Promises Military Buildup After Border Visit
UPDATE: 4:07 p.m., March 13, 2018
President Donald Trump said there may someday be a "space force" fighting alongside the Air Force, Army and other branches of the military.
Trump was speaking Tuesday about his administration's investments in space exploration to members of the military when he said that space is becoming a "war-fighting domain."
He says his idea of a new space force had started as an off-the-cuff comment, but he decided it was a great idea.
Trump also says that "very soon we're going to Mars," and that that wouldn't be happening if his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, had won.
Trump addressed Marines and other service members at an air base in San Diego after visiting his border wall prototypes
UPDATE: 2:28 p.m., March 13, 2018
President Donald Trump told U.S. troops that he's overseeing a massive military buildup, praising soldiers for pushing themselves to "new heights of excellence."
Trump said Tuesday at California's Marine Corps Air Station Miramar that the nation's military had been "asked to do more with less" for too long.
The president says he remains optimistic about a new U.S. effort to engage with North Korea. Trump says the U.S. is "prepared for anything" but believes "something positive will happen." Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this spring.
Trump is also pointing to American efforts to lead in space. He predicts that "very soon we're going to Mars" and adds that "you wouldn't be going to Mars" if his opponent, Hillary Clinton, had won the 2016 election.
UPDATE: 1:00 p.m., March 13, 2018
During his time at the border, Trump spoke with Border Patrol agents about fence modifications over the years. In the 1990s, Trump said, the border was porous but has improved in more recent years. However, he said the structure is still inferior and only deters about 95 percent of criminal activity.
"If you didn't have even these remnant walls, we call them remnant walls because they're very old, you'd have crime in numbers that would far surpass what you see today," he said.
"We’ve cut down and way down on crossings, border crossings because of the job that the Border Patrol does," he added.
Trump said with a new wall, "We’re going to stop 99 percent, maybe more than that."
He called on Congress to fund the border wall and "prohibit grants to sanctuary jurisdictions."
"Sanctuary cities are protecting a horrible group of people, criminals," he said.
UPDATE: 12:40 p.m., March 13, 2018
While viewing wall prototypes along the border, Trump pointed to what he said were issues with the current barrier.
"If you take a look at the fence — and it’s a very powerful fence — it's not doing the trick because they cut holes in it and then they’re patching holes in it all the time," the president said.
In response to a reporter's question about California Governor Jerry Brown, Trump said, "Governor Brown has done a very poor job running California."
Trump said Brown is a "nice guy," but that California taxes are very high. Trump also criticized the existence of sanctuary cities.
Brown responded to the president later in the afternoon with the following tweet:
UPDATE: 12:20 p.m., March 13, 2018
President Donald Trump has arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border where the border wall prototypes are located.
UPDATE: 12:00 p.m., March 13, 2018
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer tweeted a statement to welcome President Donald Trump.
UPDATE: 11:30 a.m., March 13, 2018
Air Force One has landed at MCAS Miramar. President Donald Trump is en route to view wall prototypes at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the White House Press Office, he is expected to arrive at the border around 12:20 p.m.
UPDATE: Supporters, Protesters Gather At Dueling Rallies, 11:00 a.m.
Supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump have gathered at rallies near the U.S.-Mexico border crossing in advance of the president's visit later today.
A crowd of about 100 protesters stood near the San Ysidro border crossing as of about 11 a.m. The crowd will march to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in San Ysidro.
Another crowd of about 100 supporters of the president gathered at Brown Field near the border. Many of those gathered are from outside San Diego County, and there is a heavy presence from the San Diego County Sheriff's Office, according to a reporter in the field.
About 100 demonstrators protested President Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall Tuesday, shouting and holding signs at the busiest U.S. border crossing before he inspects prototypes intended to guide future construction.
Protesters chanted, “No ban! No wall!” near the San Ysidro border crossing, where tens of thousands of people enter the U.S. daily from Tijuana, Mexico, many on their way to work or school in San Diego. Drivers honked as a show of support.
José Gonzalez, 21, stopped to snap a photo of the protesters holding signs, including one that read: “Wall off Putin!”
“I don’t think it’s really fair how he has the choice to separate us,” said González, a dual citizen who lives in Tijuana and crosses daily to work at a San Diego ramen restaurant.
Army veteran Mark Prieto, 48, shook his head as he walked by the protest.
“People are so narrow-minded,” said the firefighter, who voted for Trump. “Finally we have someone who is putting America first.”
Trump will examine eight 30-foot-tall (9-meter-tall) prototypes built last year along the border in a bid to fulfill his signature campaign promise. Dozens of pro- and anti-wall demonstrators gathered peacefully on opposite sides of a street leading to the prototypes, with a heavy police presence separating them.
Large trucks filled gaps between the prototypes on Monday, offering a layer of protection. A man, woman and two children were seen climbing the border fence at the site and were immediately detained.
The president also will speak with immigration enforcement officials and with Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar before heading to a fundraiser in Los Angeles.
San Diego’s Republican mayor criticized Trump’s short visit, saying the president won’t get a full picture of the city. Kevin Faulconer said that if Trump stayed more than a few hours, he would see that a strong economy and free trade aren’t a contradiction but a way of life.
The mayor, a business-friendly Republican and ardent supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement, said a popular cross-border airport terminal connecting San Diego and Tijuana shows that “building bridges has worked wonders.” The terminal is a few miles from the border-wall prototypes.
Trump had campaigned against NAFTA as a job killer that he said encouraged American companies to move factories to Mexico to exploit cheap labor. Renegotiations over the deal began last summer.
Faulconer, writing in The San Diego Union-Tribune, also said San Diego police work to protect everyone regardless of immigration status, an apparent dig at Trump’s push to target illegal immigration.
The issue has led to heightened tensions between California and the Trump administration. The Justice Department recently sued over state laws that limit cooperation with immigration authorities, which state officials have harshly criticized.
San Diego’s City Council last year passed a resolution opposing Trump’s proposed wall.
Jeff Schwilk, founder of San Diegans for Secure Borders and organizer of a pro-Trump rally, the city resolution does not reflect the views of many residents, who feel the border is not secure.
“We absolutely want President Trump to feel welcome and to come inspect the prototypes so we can get the wall built,” he said.