UPDATE: 3:55 p.m.
President Donald Trump boarded Air Force One just after 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon following his remarks near the border wall an hour earlier.
According to the president’s public schedule, after delivering remarks at the border wall near Alamo, his motorcade took him back to the McAllen Miller International Airport.
That schedule says Trump departed Valley International Airport in Harlingen at 3:13 p.m.
He is heading to Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C.
UPDATE: 2:33 p.m.
During an approximately 20-minute speech backdropped by the border wall near Alamo, President Donald Trump railed against the House of Representatives’ plans to impeach him a second time, calling it a hoax and a witch hunt that is causing division and pain.
Talks of impeachment followed a mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 while Congress was certifying electoral votes showing President-elect Joe Biden beat Trump. Numerous politicians on both sides of the aisle have said Trump incited the violence.
Trump also claimed free speech is under assault. Twitter and Facebook recently banned the president from the social media networks for allegedly inciting violence.
The president also pushed back at discussions that have been floating around since Jan. 6 about removing Trump from the Oval Office via the 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of presidents if they are unfit to serve.
Trump said he is at zero risk of being removed and said those conversations will also haunt Biden.
“Now is the time for our nation to heal, and it’s time for peace and for calm, respect for law enforcement and the great people within law enforcement, so many are here, is the foundation of the MAGA agenda,” Trump said.
Earlier in the day, the Associated Press reported Trump denied having any culpability in the violence at Capitol Hill that left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.
Trump also again publicly recognized that he did not win the election, acknowledging that Biden won and will be the next President of the United States.
He spent much of his speech lauding the border wall and his immigration policies while warning of disastrous impacts on the country if Biden removes them.
The event was meant to commemorate the building of 450 miles of border wall.
However, only approximately 80 miles constitute actual new wall, about 472 miles are replacement for primary and secondary “dilapidated and/or outdated designs,” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Trump left the area at about 2:33 p.m.
UPDATE: 1:54 p.m.
The president’s motorcade arrived at 1:54 p.m. to the section of the border wall where he is expected to deliver remarks.
UPDATE: 1:36 p.m.
President Trump has entered a motorcade that is expected to travel to a section of the border wall near Alamo.
Trump and the motorcade departed McAllen Miller International Airport at 1:36 p.m.
UPDATE: 1:28 p.m.
The helicopter carrying the president of the United States touched down at McAllen Miller International Airport at about 1:24 p.m., just several minutes after it departed from the Harlingen airport.
Trump supporters who have been rallying at the airport cheered as the helicopter arrived, waving the president’s signature flag. Some supporters embraced.
UPDATE: 1:11 p.m.
President Trump has exited Air Force One and entered a helicopter staged nearby. The helicopter took off at 1:11 p.m.
It’s not immediately clear whether Trump is heading to McAllen Miller International Airport or a section of the border wall where his public appearance is scheduled, originally said to have been in Alamo.
A crowd of supporters cheered for Trump as he exited Air Force One. The president waved at his supporters before being escorted to the helicopter.
UPDATE 12:55 p.m.
President Trump arrived at Valley International Airport at 12:55 p.m. Tuesday, where he was greeted by approximately 250 supporters, according to a crowd estimate provided by the Secret Service.
Trump is expected to be transported by helicopter to tour the border before arriving at a staged section of the border wall near Alamo, where he is expected to appear in public for the first time since the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week.
UPDATE 12:20 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez participated in a conference call Tuesday ahead of the president’s visit to discuss Trump’s “failures at the border, danger to America, and broken promises.”
Gonzalez, D-McAllen, was joined by Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa and members of the No Border Wall Coalition, who also lamented the president’s visit and what they perceived as a lack of resources to fight COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley.
The region is once again experiencing high hospitalization rates similar to those seen in the summer, when dozens of people died on a deadly basis. Hidalgo County reported 404 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday.
“We’re back at summer rates and the president is out doing photo ops on the border with Border Patrol, trying to entice his base to once again do the same thing that they did just a few days ago… in the United States Capitol,” Gonzalez said. “And that’s something that we will not allow to happen.”
Meanwhile, Hinojosa said the president was in the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday “to highlight probably his signature achievement as president of the United States, which is dividing America.”
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, was also billed as a speaker on the call, but he did not participate Tuesday morning.
UPDATE 11:37 a.m.
Motorists traveling near the McAllen Miller International Airport should expect traffic delays as a group of approximately 150 supporters of President Trump are rallying in the vicinity.
There are police officers at the intersection of 10th and Wichita streets who are directing traffic, while utility workers are setting up cones and metal fencing.
People are continuing to arrive in the area around the airport.
UPDATE 10:54 a.m.
The National Butterfly Center is asking people not to gather there to protest or counter-protest.
“We are not answering the phones. We have taken additional measures to monitor activities and protect our staff and the premises,” a news release from the center said. “We are grateful for all the messages, calls and comments expressing concerns for our safety. We pray for the safety of our community and hope you will do the same. We are grateful for your support and for your donations to defend the center.”
The National Butterfly Center is embroiled in a lawsuit against We Build the Wall, the much criticized private border wall built adjacent to the center.
In the past week, the center has reported federal contractors in the area removing brush.
The request followed a notice posted by the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, which announced today that it is implementing a one-day closure.
“All Refuge lands and facilities will be closed to public access. The Refuge will resume current operational status Wednesday January 13. We apologize for any inconvenience,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, supporters of President Trump have started to gather in McAllen near the airport.
One of those supporters is Eddie Brooks, a Valley resident, who told a reporter he wasn’t overly bothered by the violence at the U.S. Capitol last week.
“Three hours, four hours, was it, of people taking selfies? They call that an insurrection?”
Five people died in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, including a Capitol police officer.
Preparations are underway for the arrival of President Donald Trump in the Rio Grande Valley.
The setup at the border wall site in Alamo where the president will deliver his first remarks since the deadly storming of the Capitol last week has been described by journalists at the scene as more enhanced compared to previous visits from other Department of Homeland Security officials.
And as authorities prepare for Trump’s arrival, Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño issued a statement decrying his visit and noted the Rio Grande Valley’s continued COVID-19 crisis while also highlighting the dangerous mob incited by the president at the Capitol last week.
“The violence and attacks our U.S. Congressmembers and U.S. Capitol experienced are beyond words of validation and are in direct opposition to our shared American values,” Treviño said. “It was a domestic terror attack upon our democracy and our U.S. Constitution upon which our country is founded and such an attack cannot be defended in any way.”
The county judge also urged people to stay home, noting the rise in hospitalizations, and asked the president to cancel his trip.
“In order to avoid any possible or related occurrences in our area, we are asking the people of the Rio Grande Valley to avoid such a public outing and event,” he said. “Hospitalizations are critical as a result of COVID-19 and our focus is on continuing to save lives, and for that reason, we are requesting that President Trump cancel this trip so that our focus as a County and as a Country will be to save lives and not endanger them, to respect our democracy, our representative government and the constitutional values in which we all believe in as Americans.”
Just Tuesday morning, Hidalgo County reported seven new deaths and 488 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases reported to 55,626.
Trump is expected to arrive in Harlingen at around 1 p.m. before taking a helicopter to a border wall dedication in Alamo.
Former presidential candidate Julián Castro also announced he is traveling to the Rio Grande Valley to participate in a counter event and press conference in opposition to President Trump’s visit to the southern border.
“Secretary Castro will highlight Trump’s destructive and dangerous immigration agenda, as well as his incitement of insurrection that led to the occupation of the U.S. Capitol and the death of five people,” a news release from his office stated.