HARLINGEN — Trump flags waved in unity from the parking lot of the Christian Fellowship Church early Tuesday morning as more than 50 cars and trucks were parked at a gathering to pray for and show support for President Donald Trump.
A station sold “Make America Great Again” hats, flags and T-shirts.
Supporters of the president met at the church, located on 901-TX-4999 Loop in Harlingen, since 9 a.m. and waited for his arrival at Valley International Airport, with hopes of his helicopter flying over them on his way to the upper Valley.
Minerva Simpson, a member of the Cameron County Republican Women, was one of the organizers, along with Monica Cisneros Graham, Chairman.
“We are all conservatives, and we want a peaceful, respectful assembly to show our support to our president and as a human being,” Simpson said.
“We are all law abiding people. Yes, tempers can run high, but at the end of the day we were all brought together to vote red,” she said.
Simpson found out last Thursday about President Trump visiting the Valley.
The rally was then organized alongside a Trump Train for those who wanted to follow his helicopter as it flew to Alamo and McAllen.
Simpson said people were coming in from Kingsville and Corpus Christi, and Laredo residents would be gathering in McAllen.
Teenagers and children were seen amid the crowd. Almost everyone in attendance was wearing something related to the Republican Party and the president’s MAGA slogan.
“I am just ecstatic that in the midst of everything going on, he is actually coming to the Rio Grande Valley. He has so many choices,” Simpson said.
Mario Trevino, 29, from Brownsville, attended the morning rally. Trevino said it was his first time attending an event in support of Trump.
“Mostly everybody has their flags, ready to greet the president. It is awesome to see a lot of people out here; God loving patriots,” Trevino said.
“ Even with everything going on, the fact he is still going out there and visiting supporters talks great about him. If you ask me, he has not stopped working since day one,” he said.
Around 10:30 a.m., the group formed a circle to listen to a prayer by John Jacobson.
Jacobson prayed along with other supporters and said he thanked the Lord for choosing President Trump as a leader.
After prayer, several of the supporters who attended the morning rally drove to an area next to Valley International Airport and the United Launch Alliance building. An even greater group displayed flags and blasted music as they waited to see the president’s plane arrive.
A sign with the message “Cameron County Conservatives heart Trump” was visible among the many flags attached to vehicles.
While there was a strong show of support for the president, a different group did not feel the same way about Trump’s visit.
Joyce Hamilton, from the organization Angry Tias and Abuelas, as well as Nancy Fly, from Action South Texas, crafted a letter supported by other Rio Grande Valley organizations against the visit.
“This planned trip by the president is nothing more than a stunt to stoke the energy of his supporters. There is no official purpose for him to come here now, at a time when Congress has filed articles of impeachment for a second time, on the heels of unbelievable threats to our democracy at his instigation,” the letter reads.
The organizations that supported the letter included Cameron County Democratic Women, Citizens Against Voter Abuse, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), People for Peace and Justice, Progress Texas, Frontera Progressives, Team Brownsville, Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, ACLU of Texas, ARISE, Border Workers United, Proyecto Azteca and the Texas Civil Rights Project.
The letter was written in hopes of having the trip cancelled, according to its writers.
Fly said it had been sent to Valley elected officials as well as spread through social media.
“Our hospitals are overwhelmed and our front line healthcare workers are exhausted due to the COVID epidemic, and this appearance would become another super-spreader event due to the Trump team’s refusal to wear masks. We urge you to stand up and take a definitive stance against the threats to our country fueled by President Trump,” the letter read.
Fly said she did not have plans to protest against the visit, mainly because she feared for her well-being.
“We don’t want to get involved in any kind of possible violence, and we feel like his supporters are a violent bunch. No one in our group wants to be put in danger. We just want to make our feelings known,” Fly said.
Though the trip was not cancelled in the end, Fly laughed when asked about her thoughts on peaceful gatherings to greet the president.
“Let them knock themselves out; let them have fun,” she said.