Human rights advocates in Texas on Tuesday had a resounding message for President Donald Trump as he headed to the southern border in what critics say is a desperate bid to deflect attention from his culpability in last week's deadly U.S. Capitol invasion and his impending impeachment: You're not welcome here.
As the chorus of calls for Trump's removal or impeachment intensifies in the wake of the January 6 mob assault on the Capitol, Trump flew to Texas to tout his pet project, the barely built wall along the Mexican border that has cost U.S. taxpayers—and not Mexico, as the president incessantly promised—billions of dollars.
"Our community will not be used as a prop to distract the public from the accountability Trump is trying to avoid."
—Juanita Valdez-Cox, LUPE
Instead of attempting to defuse tensions even after the FBI warned Monday that pro-Trump militants are planning possible attacks across the nation in the coming days, the president while traveling from Washington, D.C. to Texas called his speech preceding the Capitol attack "totally appropriate."
The House Democrats' article of impeachment against Trump, however, alleges his remarks amount to "incitement of insurrection."
The Capitol attack and its aftermath were very much on the minds of Texans as Trump headed—apparently without notifying local officials—to the symbolically charged town of Alamo, which is named after the site of the famous last stand of mostly illegal U.S. immigrants routed by Mexican forces at San Antonio de Béxar, Mexico in 1836.
But also on the minds of many were matters much closer to home, including some of the Trump administration's most egregious human rights violations: the imprisonment of refugees and other migrants in concentration camps, the torturous seizure of children (hundreds of whom remain separated) from their parents, the devastating and dangerous "remain in Mexico" asylum policy, and other racist and xenophobic policies and actions.
Reflecting resistance to these longstanding administration misdeeds, reaction to recent developments in Washington, and fears that Trump's visit could spark further right-wing blooshed, immigrant and human rights advocates told Trump in no uncertain terms how they felt about his visit.
At @RAICESTEXAS, We are going to say this loud and clear. Trump must not visit the border this week. His visit is an attempt to divert the attention of the public from the violent white supremacist attack he incited at the Capitol, to attacking immigrants once again.
— Erika Andiola (@ErikaAndiola) January 11, 2021
Senator @JohnCornyn all eyes are on you to avoid a potential disaster from happening at the border today.
You can stop this. If you don’t, YOU will be responsible for any of the violence that results from Trump’s trip. https://t.co/JXtWn9OPyH
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) January 12, 2021
"After stoking mob violence at the Capitol, he has chosen our community to continue spewing his violence-inciting lies," Daniel Diaz, mobilizing director of la Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), wrote in a petition.
"We cannot allow Trump to bring his racist mob violence to the Rio Grande Valley," added Diaz. "Local officials must denounce his visit, call on him to cancel, and refuse to coordinate his visit with [U.S. Department of Homeland Security.] Should any violence occur on Tuesday, all public officials who did nothing to stop this visit will be responsible."
Now is no time for racist, dog-whistle grandstanding. Networks should not provide live coverage of any border wall Trump “speech” tomorrow, given the dangerous moment we are in as a nation.#CancelTrumpRGV https://t.co/OtNzSjUmnA
— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) January 12, 2021
Fernando García of the Border Network for Human Rights—which will lead a peaceful march to protest Trump's visit to Alamo—was even more blunt:
Trump has blood on his hands, and he is not welcome at the border... His policies and rhetoric are also responsible for the white supremacist attack at an El Paso Walmart in 2019 that claimed the lives of 23 people, and the astounding violence inflicted on peaceful Black Lives Matter activists by the police last year at nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black and Brown people at the hands of law enforcement.
Rather than spend his last days in the Oval Office addressing the pressing Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring an orderly transition, Trump is doubling down on his xenophobic, white supremacist agenda...
Trump does not and has never represented our communities. His presence at the borderland is a provocation, and an act of violence in and of itself. Border communities are calling for the dismantlement of the wall of shame, racism, and white supremacy. The wall and all it represents have no place in our society, and Trump must be held accountable.
In a tweet, the ACLU called Trump's visit "a slap in the face for our communities" that "should be a wake-up call for President-elect [Joe] Biden to prioritize reckoning with Trump's legacy of ruthless border policy."
Rather than addressing his own culpability in the insurrection at the US Capitol last week, Trump is seeking to divert attention today by heading to the symbolic seat of his racist immigration agenda: the #Texas border.
Our statement https://t.co/gHEk4N86sH
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) January 12, 2021
LUPE executive director Juanita Valdez-Cox asserted that "our community will not be used as a prop to distract the public from the accountability Trump is trying to avoid," adding that the president must not be permitted to "return to his tired playbook of demonizing border communities and putting their constituents at risk."