Amid Pandemic, Trump Lauds Border Wall

Before addressing a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump visited a section of border wall in the southwestern U.S. state. Trump tried to credit the new section of wall, which he and several other officials autographed, for stopping both illegal immigration and the coronavirus.  Arizona, however, is among several hot spots in the country for the COVID-19 outbreak. Ahead of Trump’s visit, the Arizona Department of Health on Tuesday reported nearly 3,600 new coronavirus cases. Overall, the state has more than 54,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and has recorded more than 1,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University research. “Our border has never been more secure,” Trump said. “This is the most powerful and comprehensive border wall structure anywhere in the world.” U.S. President Donald Trump points at the wall as he talks with U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott while touring a section of recently constructed U.S.-Mexico border wall in San Luis, Arizona, June 23, 2020.”Using our emergency public health authorities, we prevented a coronavirus catastrophe on the southern border, shutting down human smuggling and swiftly returning the crossers,” Trump said. “Without these public health measures, the southern border would be a global epicenter of the viral transmission.” Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan joined Trump in Yuma on Tuesday to tour a new section of wall along the border with Mexico at San Luis in Yuma County. The U.S. government says 338 kilometers of construction has been done along the border since January 2017, but it appears that only 4.8 kilometers of it is in places where no barriers previously existed.  “The new wall is in many places twice as tall as where it was before, and many miles were built where nothing but vehicle barriers existed before, which few people would describe as a fence,” David Bier, immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, told VOA. “Despite the improvements, the new fences are already being breached and climbed, and immigrants are still going around. In fact, in 2019, the government stated the number of people evading detection at the border actually increased.” Roundtable discussionIn Yuma, Trump hosted a roundtable discussion with elected officials and community leaders to discuss border security.  Chad Wolf, acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, left, and Mark Morgan, Acting Commissioner of the United States Customs and Border Protection, listen as President Donald Trump speaks in Yuma, Ariz., June 23, 2020.The president was also asked about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program the U.S. Supreme Court prevented Trump from ending last week in a ruling. DACA protects nearly 700,000 people brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to work. “We’ll work it out with DACA,” Trump said. White House officials said the president plans to resubmit paperwork to end the program. “I think good things are happening with DACA. They resubmit, it will work it out. And the Democrats have been playing with DACA for years, and they haven’t done anything. I’ll get it done.” Trump was asked at the border what he would say to DACA recipients. “Keep your chin up,” he replied. Phoenix speechTrump later flew to Phoenix to deliver a campaign speech at a church to more than 3,000 people, most with the group “Students for Trump.”  U.S. President Donald Trump delivers an “Address to Young Americans” at the Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, June 23, 2020.The Dream City Church posted a video saying it had installed new “ionization” technology that “kills 99.9 percent of COVID within 10 minutes,” and those attending the event with the president “will be safe and protected.”  There is no scientific evidence that such an air-filtering device can prevent transmission between people in close quarters of respiratory particles containing the coronavirus.  Both Yuma County and the city of Phoenix have mandated the wearing of masks in public.  The event at Dream City Church “was not sanctioned or permitted by the city of Phoenix, as the city does not permit political events. Furthermore, it does not abide by current CDC guidelines during COVID-19,” said Young people applaud as they wait to hear U.S. President Donald Trump deliver an “Address to Young Americans” at the Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, June 23, 2020.Everyone attending the event, “particularly any elected official, should set an example to residents by wearing a mask. This includes the president,” said the mayor. Trump has faced criticism for hosting last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the largest indoor event in the country in months amid the pandemic, especially in a state where the number of coronavirus cases has been surging.   About 6,200 of the 19,199 seats in the Bank of Oklahoma Center were filled, according to the Tulsa Fire Department. The Trump reelection campaign claims attendance was about 12,000 people.  
 



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