Donald Trump brought his message of walls and deportations to the doorstep of America’s busiest border crossing on Friday as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee greeted supporters in San Diego, amid one of the largest counter-protests organized against him.
The scene inside the San Diego Convention Center during Trump’s speech was relatively placid, while outside demonstrators opposed to his controversy-ridden White House bid marched and chanted, carrying signs criticizing his rhetoric against illegal immigration.
Waving U.S. and Mexican flags, more than 1,000 people turned out for anti-trump rallies in San Diego, a city on the U.S.-Mexico border whose San Ysidro port of entry sees nearly 300,000 people a day cross legally between the countries.
San Diego is considered a binational city by many who live and work on opposite sides of the border, and about a third of the city’s population is Latino.
During Trump’s speech on Friday, some protesters outside the convention center scaled a barrier and lobbed water bottles at police. One man was pulled off the wall and arrested as others were surrounded by fellow protesters and backed away from the confrontation.
After the convention center emptied, clusters of Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators began to mix in the streets, many exchanging shouted epithets and some throwing water bottles at one another.
Police in riot gear declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowd to disperse, herding the crowd out of the city’s hotel and restaurant-filled Gaslamp Quarter.
Police reported making more than dozen arrests during the hour following the department’s order to disperse.
“Fantastic job on handling the thugs who tried to disrupt our very peaceful and well attended rally,” Trump tweeted to the San Diego Police Department after the event.
Trump has weathered months of blowback from all ends of the political spectrum for his immigration policy, which calls for the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and deporting the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants who reside in the United States.
Critics have said his plan is needlessly cruel and impossible to implement. At Trump’s campaign stops, attendees often chant “build the wall.”
While Trump is running unopposed in the June 7 California Republican primary, his stance on border control and deportation seems unlikely to resonate with the electorate at large in a state where political fallout from a Republican-backed crackdown on illegal immigrants 20 years ago cost the party dearly.
Friday was not the first time Trump has been greeted by civil unrest in California, which is home to the largest Latino population in the country. Late last month, a visit to the California Republican convention set off days of protests in the area, leading to several arrests. (Courtesy Reuters)