For the first time since taking office nearly 14 months ago, President Donald Trump will travel today to the nation's most populous state.
Numerous rallies are planned by groups both for and against Trump and his push to build a "big, beautiful wall" between the U.S and Mexico. Trump will make his first visit to the city Tuesday to examine eight border wall prototypes.
Protests are also being planned across the border in Tijuana, Mexico.
Organizers on both sides were urging people to remain peaceful after recent scuffles at rallies in Southern California, including brawls at a Dec. 9 rally near where the prototypes stand.
Trump lost California by a two-to-one margin in 2016, worse than any modern Republican presidential nominee, and the state's political leaders have since led the nation in challenging Trump's policies on immigration, health care and the environment.
The state's Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, suggested Trump visit a railway construction site during his trip instead of prototypes for a barrier along the Mexican border, saying the state's focus is "on building bridges, not walls."
Trump has responded in kind, with lawsuits, threats to cut off federal funding and by largely ignoring what would be the world's sixth-largest economy if California were its own country, one that has consistently outperformed the rest of the U.S. in recent years.
"Washington wants to abandon part of America based on politics," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a potential candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. "Just as I would expect a Democratic president to pay attention to the reddest parts of the country, I expect a Republican president to pay attention to the parts that didn't vote for him."
Trump will make the roughly five-hour flight to California and back for a visit that likely won't exceed 24 hours.
He will review prototypes for his promised Mexican border wall near San Diego and then head to Beverly Hills for a fundraiser tonight.
Trump is expected to be briefed on lessons learned from the prototypes' construction and meet with border agents and officers to ask what they need, said Jonathan Hoffman, Homeland Security spokesman.
The president is determined to fulfill his campaign promise and will not be swayed by California Republican lawmakers concerned the wall is a waste of money, White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.
"The president campaigned on this, he talked about it extensively and he's the president and this is something that he is not going to back away from," she said.
"It's something that he's going to continue to push for."
She declined to say whether Trump would pick a winning prototype during his visit.
In San Diego on Monday, immigrant activists, church leaders and elected officials held a press conference at the city's historic Chicano Park to call for demonstrations to show border communities do not support a wall.
"It's really important that as a region, as a city that has firsthand understanding of what the border wall means for our communities that we stand against [this] and we send a strong message to DC to say this is something that we don't welcome," City Council member Georgette Gomez said Monday.
No president since Franklin Roosevelt has waited so long since his inauguration to visit the nation's largest state, a fact not lost on California's leaders.
Brown sent a letter to the White House on Monday imploring Trump to make time in his trip to visit construction sites for the nation's first true high-speed rail line -- a project that Brown suggested fits squarely within Trump's promised infrastructure development plan, even as he and Trump disagree on approaches to immigration and trade.
"Our prosperity is not built on isolation," he wrote. "Quite the opposite. California thrives because we welcome immigrants and innovators from across the globe."
But the president has shown far more interest in California's immigration policies than in its economic development.
The Justice Department is suing the state for laws that block cities and employers from assisting federal agents seeking to deport undocumented immigrants.
In February, Trump suggested he would pull immigration enforcement agents from the state altogether -- "you'd be inundated; you would see crime like you've never seen crime in this country," he said -- and declared in a tweet that he wouldn't build a section of border wall he said the state's leaders had requested until his entire proposed barrier is funded.
Information for this article was contributed by Jennifer Epstein and Romy Varghese of Bloomberg News; and by Julie Watson, Kathleen Ronayne, John Antczak, Elliot Spagat and Nancy Benac of The Associated Press.
A Section on 03/13/2018
Print Headline: Trump makes 1st California trip in office