About a dozen border security activists held a press conference in the San Ysidro Port of Entry Friday urging elected officials to avoid a government shutdown by approving $5 billion for a border wall.
“I have a very simple message,” said Ben Bergquam, one of the organizers. “Build the wall or shut it down. It’s time that we protect American citizens.”
“President Trump should understand there are not the votes for the wall in the House or the Senate. He is not going to get the wall in any form”, Democrat Chuck Schumer.
The press conference featured four “Angel Mothers,” women whose children have either been murdered by unauthorized immigrants or died in accidents involving people who were in the country illegally.
The mothers, who drove to San Diego from as far as Colorado, said a border wall would prevent more people from illegally entering the United States and therefore protect American citizens from being potentially harmed by unauthorized immigrants.
“If we do not do something now, how much further is this going to go,” said Katheryn Hall, 50, from Colorado Springs. “My daughter was 18. She had dreams, she had a life.”
Hall’s daughter, Hailey Hall, died after a hit-and-run vehicle collision in 2016. The driver who struck Hall’s daughter was in the country illegally.
The group decided to hold a press conference this week after seeing President Donald Trump argue about the border wall with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
During the argument, Trump said he’d shoulder the blame for a government shut down if Congress did not approve the $5 billion for the border wall.
Friday morning’s press conference had a sharp partisan tone as organizers blamed Democrats for illegal immigration. Several Angel Mothers said Democratic politicians ignore their concerns and Bergquam called Democrats domestic enemies of the American people.
“They raised their hand, they swore an oath to protect this country from enemies both foreign and domestic and they have become the very domestic enemies they swore an oath to protect us from,” he said.
Activists wore hats and shirts with President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. One of the mothers, Angie Morfin-Vargas, shared a story of meeting then-candidate Trump along the campaign trail.
“He held my hand and he told me that everything was going to be OK and I believe him,” she said. “I believe everything that he told me that day and I know that he is here to fight for the American people.”
Morfin-Vargas’ 13-year-old son Ruben was shot and killed by a gang member in 1990. The shooter fled to Mexico and was eventually caught.
Organizers held the press conference at San Ysidro, the county’s busiest port of entry where on Nov. 25 hundreds of migrants from a Central American caravan rushed the border fence.
Border Patrol agents shot tear gas at the migrants, some of whom threw rocks at the agents, only a few yards away from where the activists stood Friday.
Amy Sutton, of the pro-border security organization San Diego Patriots, said she is worried about more caravan members crossing the border illegally.
“We need to fund the border wall,” she said.
Sutton said she and other members of San Diego Patriots have visited the El Barretal migrant shelter in Tijuana. They said they have have seen migrants gambling and drinking excessively. She also saw a video of migrants having a dance party Tuesday night, the same day a group of them asked the U.S. for money to go back home.
“It was literally turned into a club,” she said.
But activists stressed that border security does not stop with the caravan. Illegal immigration happened before the caravan arrived to Tijuana and it will continue to happen once they leave, Bergquam said.
“It’s more than just the caravan,” he said. “It’s a much bigger issue than just the caravan.”
Some of the activists from Friday’s press conference planned to attend an “America First Rally” near the San Ysidro Port of Entry at 11 a.m. Saturday.
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