LIVE UPDATES: The latest on Trump, Abbott visit to Rio Grande Valley (Final update)

Former United States President Donald Trump and Texas Governor Greg Abbott speak at a border security briefing at the Texas DPS Weslaco Regional Office on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, in Weslaco, Texas. (Joel Martinez | The Monitor/Pool)

UPDATE: 2:40 p.m.

Trump has just finished giving remarks in front of the border wall near Pharr, where he repeated many of the same themes he spoke about during a security briefing at the DPS headquarters in Weslaco.

In his speech, Trump blamed Biden and Democrats for “destroying our country.”

“They are destroying our country. Biden is destroying our country. And it all started with a fake election,” Trump said, continuing to assert false claims of a stolen election.

He further claimed that had his policies been left in place, the wall would have been finished.

“Within two months everything could have been completed. It would have been painted,” Trump said.

The former president also lauded his administration’s immigration policies, including Remain in Mexico, and claimed countries in Central America are opening their prisons and sending criminals into the United States.

Abbott also spoke, reiterating much of the same narrative he provided at the briefing in Weslaco, including claims that people are having guns brandished in their faces on the border and that they are threatened every day.

“Their children live in fear about just playing in their own yard,” Abbott claimed.

However, FBI crime data shows that border communities are largely safe with low rates of violence.

Abbott also said the state has already begun the process of building its own wall.

“We’ve already begun clearing out land, acquiring land and we’re going to begin the process of putting the border wall up just like President Trump did and just like President Biden should be doing,” Abbott said.

Check later for full coverage on today’s visit by the former president and governor.

UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

The entourage of officials following Trump and Abbott to the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley arrived at a section of the wall in Pharr where the barrier ends.

There are three large cranes standing in an unfinished section of the wall near a facility used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Two large American flags hang from two of the cranes, while a large Texas flag hangs from the third.

UPDATE: 1 p.m.

The border security summit at the Weslaco DPS headquarters has concluded and former President Trump says the group will now head down to the border wall to “admire it.”

During the hearing, which lasted a little less than an hour, Trump’s remarks vacillated from the border wall to Russia to elections and to a cognitive test, which the president said he thought President Joe Biden would be unable to pass.

The former president also heard from DPS and sheriffs from Brooks and Tarrant counties.

Former President Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott arrived at the Weslaco DPS headquarters and began the border security summit at about 12:07 p.m.

Abbott used a portion of his opening remarks to critique Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso.

DPS Director Steve McCraw presented figures and charts on the challenges in addressing human and drug smuggling.

Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn spoke about fentanyl “flooding” the streets of Fort Worth.

“Coming in from China?,” Trump asked him.

“No, sir. It’s coming from the cartel,” the sheriff responded.

Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez said that between June 22 and June 25, his office recovered seven bodies from the brush, likely all people making their way into the country illegally. His office has also seen a 185% increase in apprehensions and a 490% increase in 911 calls, Martinez added.

At one point, Trump indicated he would be endorsing a candidate very soon and asked indicted Texas Attorney Ken Paxton how many people were running against him. Paxton said two.

UPDATE: 12:15 p.m.

Former President Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott arrived at the Weslaco DPS headquarters and began the border security summit.

UPDATE: 11:07 a.m.

Officials began arriving at DPS headquarters in Weslaco just after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday for a border security briefing as LUPE wound down its Border Community Town Hall in San Juan, where speakers slammed the governor and former president’s border trip.

Speakers at the LUPE town hall included Laura Peña, legal director of the Racial and Economic Justice Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project; Marsha Gonzalez and Carlos Rodriguez, labor leaders with the Texas American Federation of Teachers; Roger Ramirez, of the Laredo Immigrant Alliance, Denisce Palacios, Texas Rising/Texas Freedom Network; state Rep. Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco; Ramona Casa, with ARISE Adelante; and Jessica Cisneros, an activist from Laredo who recently challenged incumbent U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and narrowly lost.

Cisneros said that even though she’s from Laredo, she is a community ally of the Rio Grande Valley.

“I think it is really important to me to establish that solidarity even though we’re not technically from the Rio Grande Valley. We’re still an area on the border,” Cisneros said. “Anything we can do to foster relationships with organizers all across the border will only be to our benefit — especially when it comes to issues like these.”

LUPE said the Border Community Town Hall was meant to counter what they say is dangerous anti-immigrant rhetoric from Trump and Abbott and to raise awareness about the Valley’s many needs.

Meanwhile, in Weslaco, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd was the first official to arrive to Abbott’s border security briefing.

Also in attendance are Villalobos, the McAllen mayor; DPS Director Steve McCraw and Brooks County Sheriff Urbino “Benny” Martinez.

That event is scheduled to begin at noon.

UPDATE: 9:34 a.m.

Approximately 100 supporters of former President Trump are braving rain under a Highway 281 overpass.

As of 9:30 a.m., more than 50 vehicles had arrived at the intersection near the highway and Farm-to-Market Road 490 east near the South Texas International Airport in Edinburg.

Fox News personality Sean Hannity is scheduled to hold a town hall in the area at 2 p.m. today that will include Trump and Abbott.

Additionally, authorities have released a list of officials invited to participate in the border security briefing at the Texas Department of Public Safety headquarters in Weslaco.

Just one Rio Grande Valley elected official was invited: newly elected McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos.

Officials also invited DPS Director Steven McCraw, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, former DHS acting secretary Chad Wolf and former CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.

Brooks County Sheriff Benny Martinez was also invited to the briefing, as was Paul Perez, president of the National Border Patrol Council RGV 3307, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd and Susan Kibbe, director of the South Texans Property Rights Association.

There are several other non-border county sheriff’s in attendance, as well as four Texas representatives and a representative from Indiana.

UPDATE: 9:05 a.m.

Congressman Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez on Wednesday both released a joint statement slamming former president Trump and Governor Abbott for their visit, which they said is a distraction for their failed leadership.

“The state of Texas has gone through so much this past year, the pandemic, the massive power outages that resulted in so many lives lost, and now an unemployment rate that is double what we saw before the virus,” Vela said. “Instead of prioritizing Texans and making sure we grow our economy and get people back to work, Governor Abbott is creating a distracting media circus with a failed former president.”

Vela said their narrative that the border is violent and insecure is blatantly false.

“The border is not a war zone, and the wall Abbott and Trump are trying to get Texans to pay for is not only a waste of their hard-earned money but also an un-American symbol of hatred that separates and intimidates our communities, harms our wildlife, and encroaches on landowner rights,” Vela said.

Gonzalez called the trip a slap in the face of South Texans.

“Inviting the former President, who incited the January 6th insurrection in an effort to overthrow the government and prevent the peaceful transition of power, is nothing short of a slap in the face to South Texans,” Gonzalez said.

He said Trump and Abbott are misrepresenting the border.

“Instead of coming down to try and divide people by misrepresenting the border community on the national stage, I urge the Governor to work together to enact meaningful policy solutions that will bring real border security,” Gonzalez said. “In order for us to stem mass migration, we must look at the three Central American countries people are coming from and make surgical investments that will provide jobs, security and prosperity to encourage migrants to stay home.”


A dueling town hall and rally Wednesday morning will set the stage in Hidalgo County for a visit from former president Donald Trump Jr. and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over the state’s controversial border security plan.

Starting at 9 a.m. LUPE will be holding its “Border Community Town Hall” in San Juan while the Hidalgo County GOP will be hosting a “Trump Border Rally” in McAllen at South 10th Street and Bales Road.

(Read: Here’s where Trump and Abbott are headed during their RGV visit)

LUPE is opposed to Abbott’s plans for the Rio Grande Valley, saying the governor is spreading dangerous lies about the border.

“Texas Governor Abbott is teaming up with former President Trump to continue his legacy of violence against immigrants and border communities,” the organization said in the event listing. “While they try to play political games with our lives, we will be hosting a Border Community Town Hall to show how we will continue to protect our region and keep welcoming people with dignity.”

The Hidalgo County GOP has voiced support for Abbott’s plan to declare a disaster here, to build border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley and to jail people caught crossing illegally with aggravated trespassing, which could land them in local jails for up to six months.

It bills its rally as a way to show Trump a warm welcome.

“People will show up early with flags and signs in appreciation of what both he and our Governor of Texas are trying to do, which is encourage Kamala and Biden to face the situation at the border and put pressure on Congress to fix it and get it done,” the organization’s Facebook post publicizing the rally said.

Abbott and Trump are scheduled to hold a security briefing with state officials and law enforcement at noon at the Texas Department of Public Safety headquarters in Weslaco followed by a tour of the border wall at 1 p.m.

FOX News personality Sean Hannity will also be in Edinburg Wednesday to host a town hall with Trump.

A FOX News representative said in an email that the event will focus on Trump’s trip to the border and his thoughts on President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.

That email said the town hall will feature an interview with Abbott to discuss the governor’s disaster declaration and his decision for the state to build a border wall.

FOX News said the town hall is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

This story will be updated throughout the day.