Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited the U.S.-Mexico border town of Laredo, Texas, on Thursday, but the border patrol union that was to show him around canceled the tour before he arrived.
The union, Local 2455 of the National Border Patrol Council, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Government Employees and the AFL-CIO, pulled out of the media event, stating “Local 2455 will not participate in any events with Mr. Trump.”
But Trump was undeterred. Wearing a baseball cap embossed with his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” The Donald told reporters in Laredo, “There’s a huge problem with the illegals coming through,” referring to undocumented immigrants entering the United States from Mexico. “The people coming in have to be legal,” Trump added.
Local 2455 president Hector Garza said in a statement: “After careful consideration of all the factors involved in this event and communicating with members of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) at the national level, it has been decided by Local 2455 to pull out of all events involving Donald Trump.”
The union also clarified that the event was never meant as a political endorsement, as the local “does not endorse candidates for any political office.”
Local 2455 also made clear their views on the need to strengthen border security are somewhat aligned with Trump’s, stating that “our border with Mexico is not secure.”
Responding to the union’s cancelation of the Trump border tour in a statement, the GOP candidate’s campaign said Local 2455 was “totally silenced directly from superiors in Washington who do not want people to know how bad it is on the border.”
Trump’s statement continued: “It is unfortunate the local union of Border Patrol Agents received pressure at a national level not to participate and ultimately pulled out of today’s event. They are being silenced, and are very unhappy about it, as told directly to Mr. Trump.”
The AFL-CIO was not involved in the national-level discussions this week with the National Border Patrol Council and Local 2455 regarding the decision to cancel the Laredo event with Trump, AFL-CIO spokesperson Josh Goldstein told The National Memo in an email. Goldstein said, “This was a local union issue.”
The National Border Patrol Council did not respond to a request for comment about the canceled Trump event. The NBPC’s website outlines where the union diverges from the AFL-CIO when it comes to immigration policy:
The NBPC opposes all efforts by AFL-CIO to aid and support illegal aliens working illegally within the United States. Instead of focusing on increasing their per capita and membership through illegal aliens, the AFL-CIO should firmly oppose illegal immigration and instead support American workers[…] The NBPC challenges AFL-CIO to reconsider their priorities and support American workers and immigration enforcement in the interior and at the workplace.
Speaking with the media on Thursday, Trump claimed that he would win the Hispanic vote and that he was the best Republican candidate to challenge Hillary Clinton — whom Trump called “the worst secretary of state in the history of the country” — in the general election.
While Trump told reporters, “I’m way, way ahead with the Hispanics,” a recent Univision poll reports that 79 percent of Hispanic voters find his comments on Mexican immigrants offensive, and 71 percent view him unfavorably. Univision is one of a few companies that have broken business ties with Trump following his presidential campaign announcement during which he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and accused some of bringing drugs and crime into the United States.
Laredo, Texas, a town of 248,000 people, is 95 percent Latino, according to U.S. Census data.
After Laredo city manager Jesus Olivares, responding to reporters, said a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was not necessary right now and that the city has a good relationship with federal law enforcement, Trump said that a wall was needed “in certain sections” along the border.
When asked directly what he would do, as president, with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Trump said he would first “strengthen our borders.” He didn’t offer any other specifics.
Trump said the border patrol agents’ union had originally invited him to tour the border in Laredo, and today’s cancellation of the tour was a result of national union pressure. “I heard they [Local 2455] got those orders from Washington,” Trump said.
Photo: Donald Trump speaks to the media in Laredo, Texas, on July 23, 2015. YouTube screengrab via The Savage Nation.