PHOENIX — When Air Force One lands at San Diego's marine air station Tuesday morning, President Trump will be welcomed by a receptive audience. But that is likely to change as soon as he steps foot outside the military base.
Trump will spend about three hours in San Diego on Tuesday afternoon. The highlight is expected to be a tour of the eight different 30-foot chunks of wall near the U.S.-Mexico border — each of them a prototype for Trump's long-promised border wall.
After the tour, he'll deliver remarks to members of the military at the Miramar Marine air station before heading out to Beverly Hills for a fundraiser later that day.
This trip will be his first presidential visit to solid-blue California, a state he lost by more than 3 million votes during the election. Over the course of his presidency, California has emerged as the leader of the anti-Trump movement, taking stances in opposition on nearly every single issue, from sanctuary cities to the border wall.
The animosity and defiance toward the president is expected to continue Tuesday in San Diego, with at least two planned protests against Trump's visit on both sides of the border. However, there also is at least one group is that is rallying in support.
Nearly a week ago, local groups began planning rallies and protests in San Diego's Otay Mesa neighborhood — near where the eight border wall prototypes are located.
San Diegans for Secure Borders is hosting a “big rally” in support of the president’s visit Tuesday morning in that neighborhood, according to a Facebook invitation.
Despite California's reputation as a Democratic stronghold statewide, the suburbs around San Diego are represented by Republicans in Congress, and there's a sizable military presence in the area, where Trump tends to draw strong support.
“The federal government needs to get serious about securing the border,” group founder Jeff Schwilk said. “There’s hope with President Trump in office that we’re going to get there eventually.”
That event is open to “all supporters of strong border security,” the group’s Facebook invitation said, adding that San Diego County Sheriff’s Department will be there, “to keep any open border radicals and protesters away from our rally.”
But, as expected, even more protests are planned against Trump's visit, in a community where many regard his idea to build a border wall as an affront to the region's shared identity.
Community advocacy group Nuevo Movimento will lead a protest march, called Deport Trump Brigade, on Tuesday morning, also in Otay Mesa.
“The main message is to get it through Trump’s head that he’s not welcome in San Diego or California, period,” said Jenerai Del Castillo, one of the event organizers.
The event will be held in an empty lot just outside the county sheriff’s designated free speech area, about a half mile away from the pro-wall rally, according to the Facebook invitation. Del Castillo said the event should be peaceful.
“We don’t plan on approaching, or talking to, or confronting any of the Trump supporters or Trump himself,” he said.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has designated the free speech area for, “individuals and groups with contrasting opinions to gather.” The agency is restricting people from bringing into this area any items that could be used as weapons, including firearms, knives and boards used for flags, signs and banners.
Across the border, Mexican officials said they're monitoring the situation. But law enforcement agencies said they haven't been formally notified of the president's visit yet or received any requests to secure the area across the border from the prototypes.