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SAN DIEGO — President Donald Trump's visit to the border with Mexico here was attended by only a handful of supporters and protesters, some saying that a border wall would protect the nation and others that it won't address the area's real problem of smuggling tunnels.
Trump's stop in the Otay Mesa community was announced Monday night, leaving little time to plan organized events for his 3 p.m. arrival. The first time he came to this neighborhood, in early 2018, dozens of anti-Trump protesters shouted at the president from both sides of the border.
A few die-hard Trump fans were there Wednesday wearing red and donning "Make America Great Again" and "USA" caps.
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Supporter Danny Duran had an American flag draped over his shoulders as the president's motorcade of armored Chevrolet Suburban SUVs rolled by en route to a dirt road that would take him to a section of upgraded border barriers, unveiled last month.
The wall, Duran said, is "good for his campaign, but it's good for America."
Though the barrier is part of a long-planned fence replacement, Duran was convinced this was Trump's wall.
"We need the wall," he said. "Why not protect our country? I got a fence on my property."
The Trump well-wishers were confined to a neighborhood of industrial parks about a half mile from the president's appearance at the border.
Some of the Trump supporters there didn't want to talk to reporters for fear of having their words misconstrued — one called a reporter "fake news" — or because they believed it would endanger their families.
Duran, a Latino who speaks Spanish, was proud to speak out. "I don't agree with everything Trump says," he said, "but he's doing a good job."
Luis Garcia, who owns a packaging supplies business nearby, wasn't as enthused. He said the president's past threats to shut down the border and place tariffs on some Mexican goods has been bad news for a border economy dependent on trade between both nations.
"I'm from the border," he said. "I deal with both countries. People here don't like the president."
A border wall won't stop legitimate trade, he said, but neither would it protect the Otay Mesa community from its true scourge — tunnels that run from Mexico to warehouses here and attract cartel traffic — he said. They've been used to ship drugs wholesale into the United States.
"It makes no sense," Garcia said of Trump's wall. "The wall doesn't work. It's a campaign tactic."
Trump wrapped up a two-day trip to California that included campaign fundraisers in San Francisco, Beverly Hills and San Diego.
The $147-million replacement barrier he observed Wednesday runs for 14 miles from Imperial Beach to Otay Mesa.
Trump plans to use $3.6 billion earmarked for the Pentagon to help construct 175 miles of wall along the southern border.
Last year Trump vowed that a new border wall would stop 99 percent of unauthorized crossings along the border at San Diego.
"Now we have a world class security system at the border," Trump said Wednesday.