HARLINGEN — Federal officials are working with local police to secure the area as President Donald Trump prepares to land today at Valley International Airport before taking a helicopter to the border wall near Alamo, area leaders said Monday.
At the White House, spokesman Andrew Riddaugh said Trump will fly into Harlingen at 1 p.m.
Trump is set to take a helicopter from the airport to the border wall near Alamo, City Commissioner Frank Puente said.
“He’s landing here and taking off here,” he said. “They’re planning the logistics for the Air Force One landing.”
After a border wall dedication, Trump is set to take a helicopter back to Harlingen, where he’ll take off on Air Force One, Puente said.
Meanwhile, police are working with federal officials to secure the area, Sgt. Larry Moore of the Harlingen Police Department said.
“We will have additional officers to assist the federal authorities with anything they request or need,” Moore said. “This is a federal operation — this is Homeland Security, Secret Service. All we do on the local level is assist federal authorities with security planning.”
Police have been working with federal officials to close some roads near the airport, Morgan Cisneros Graham, the Cameron County Republican Party’s chairwoman, said.
“They had to secure the area and work with local law enforcement,” she said. “They made recommendations with regards to closing off routes in the surrounding area.”
Officials are planning to close roads that might include part of FM 507 and a section of the Marine Military Academy area that includes the Iwo Jima Memorial, she said.
On Friday, federal officials met with airport Director Marv Esterly to prepare for Air Force One’s landing along with the helicopter squadron that will fly Trump into Hidalgo County, Puente said.
Puente said federal officials picked the airport because it offers a runway capable of serving the Boeing 747.
“No other airport in the Valley can handle Air Force One,” he said. “I believe we have the longest runway.”
‘Flag rally’ planned
About a week ago, local Republican Party leaders found out Trump was planning the trip to dedicate part of the border wall in Hidalgo County, Cisneros Graham said.
“ y understanding is that it’s a dedication ceremony and so he’s here in his official capacity as opposed to a political event,” she said.
Local party leaders are planning a “flag rally” in the morning.
“We wanted to make it a point to thank him, to demonstrate who we really are — a lot of folks who love our nation and support our president and are exercising our right in a peaceful manner,” Cisneros Graham said. “Whether you like the president or not, it’s not an easy job.”
From 50 to 150 Trump supporters are coming from as far as Dallas for the rally, she said.
“This will likely draw people from the RGV and surrounding area of South Texas,” she said. “We’re going to have a bunch of folks from all over South Texas coming. They’re people we know coming to express their gratitude and support — and all for unity.”
Organizers want to assure a “peaceful” event, she said, noting last Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of Trump supporters breached security before crowds entered the building.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure this is a peaceful, orderly (event) — no monkey business. I have folks expressing concern about the division in the country even within both political parties,” she said.