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Trump's border visit starts in McAllen, Texas. If he looks, here's what he might see

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

MCALLEN, Texas -- President Donald Trump is bringing his campaign to sell the U.S. on a border wall to McAllen, Texas.

Two days after claiming a humanitarian and security crisis, Trump will land in the heart of Texas' Rio Grande Valley, the busiest stretch of the border in recent years for illegal crossings.

Many in this city of 140,000 are wondering what exactly the president will see.

Perhaps Trump will visit the places near McAllen where new border barriers are being built. While Trump has been fighting for a border wall in Washington, here in the valley, plans for $1.4 billion in new border barriers already funded by Congress have quietly proceeded.

The added barrier surrounding McAllen will rise atop an existing levee, which also crosses wildlife refuges, the National Butterfly Center, a cemetery and church properties. Construction on about 14 miles of border fencing is scheduled to start next month.

McAllen resident and valley native David Garcia worries that the wall will damage wildlife and ecotourism. Garcia, 36, sat in front of an "I Love the Valley" mural in the downtown entertainment district Wednesday on a break from his screen printing job. He said Trump's dire warnings of a crisis at the border are wrong.

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"It's a total misconception," he said. "We're in the top lists of safest cities in the state."

He sees a largely Latino, moderate Democratic stronghold of quiet neighborhoods patrolled by state, local and federal forces. Not to mention the National Guard and active-duty troops sent to the border in recent months.

"If there was a crisis," he said, "we would be safe."

Trump will probably visit Border Patrol agents at their McAllen station, and perhaps the nearby migrant central processing center that families nicknamed "the dog kennel" because of cyclone fences surrounding their cells. But the residents of McAllen are left to wonder because the White House has not given details of the president's visit.

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