President Donald Trump surprised reporters by inviting them into a roundtable with supporters to talk about the crisis on the Southern border during a campaign event in Texas.
The group of supporters met with the president in San Antonio, Texas, but agreed to speak to the media about the problems on the border.
Trump appeared deeply moved by stories about the border crisis after speaking with Texas landowners, who told him about migrants and illegal immigrants dying in the desert after smugglers dropped them off at the border.
One supporter explained how human smuggler “coyotes” preyed on illegals and migrants on the border sending them through brush country with a gallon of water toward cities too far away to survive.
“We have numerous people dying on these ranches, and people have been finding their bodies for a number of years,” he said.
He also spoke about coyotes driving their trucks through their fences after they were pursued by border patrol agents.
Other families, he said, were forced to leave their homes at times when the activity got too violent.
Trump expressed surprise by the stories.
“Nobody’s ever told me this, this doesn’t come out in the fake news, and this doesn’t come out in the press,” he said.
The president said that he had no idea the border climate was so bad.
He recalled stories of ranchers and people on the border who told him that they had to stop going out at night, had to carry guns and stop traveling alone as the area got more dangerous.
Trump also commented on the size of Texas.
“This is a vast state, it’s a vast area, you look at it, the state’s tremendous, we don’t see that, I come from New York, you have Fifth Avenue and that connects to Park Avenue and its not too far away, but this is, you know, hundreds of miles between places,” he said.
One landowner said that he had six people dressed in black show up on his porch, adding that it was a “real scary feeling” not knowing who arrives at your home. Another landowner commented that the people traveling illegally across the border were increasingly coming from Central American countries “dressed in black” with “hoodies.”
“They’re not good guys,” he said. He recalled that he used to be able to feed starving people crossing the border with the concept of “mi casa su casa” but that the people had become more dangerous.
“They were saying, the people coming from much further away, they’re sending real killers, including MS-1, because they don’t want them in Honduras and El Salvador and Guatemala, they don’t want the gangs, so they’re sending them to our country.
One supporter urged the media to go to Brooks County, noting that over 1,000 dead bodies could be documented in the last 5-7 years, including the elderly, children, and pregnant women.
“They don’t care about these people, and the Democrats never talk about the humanitarian crisis not just on our side of the border, protecting our citizens, but these poor people who are subjugated to these gangsters, these cartels, who are bringing these people here, charging them thousands’s of dollars and leaving them to die,” he said.
Trump expressed surprise at the concerns expressed by his supporters, noting that this was the first time he was hearing these kinds of stories.
One supporter reminded Trump and the media that they were comfortable with life in a multi-cultural and bi-racial climate like Texas, as they had many friends and family from Mexico.
“We all love each other and get along great, that’s not what we’re talking about here,” he said. “People will call us racist for bringing this up … things have changed. We’re not talking about citizens from Mexico coming to do agricultural work.”
He said that most of the illegal activity on the border was now about drug cartels and human smugglers.
The president claimed that Central American countries were sending the worst people into the United States, trying to get rid of their own violent criminals.
“Those countries are sending them up, I have no doubt,” he said.
Trump thanked his supporters for choosing to talk to the media, marveling at the horrors of the border crisis. He acknowledged that he was originally participating in a campaign event, but felt that the media should hear their stories.
“I couldn’t care less about the campaign, this is not a campaign, this is now about people, this is about telling the truth,” he said. “We got to do something about this.”
The president urged the media to cover more of the stories like those related by his supporters.
“It’s really bad. You really should cover it right. This has nothing to do with politics, this has nothing to do with campaigning or my campaign … these people said it better than anybody else could say it because they have to live it,” Trump said.