MCALLEN, Texas — U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday, February 22nd, visited the Rio Grande valley for a firsthand look at the U.S.-Mexico border as President Donald Trump’s administration steps up immigration enforcement and prepares to ask Congress to pay for a border wall.
It was the first time the Wisconsin Republican has visited the border, and protests were announced to meet his arrival in McAllen, Texas, on Wednesday. Ryan led a small group of lawmakers on the trip.
In McAllen, Ryan came face to face with some of the challenges that arise in building a wall along the entire 2,000-mile border, which includes much remote and inhospitable terrain as well as the Rio Grande, the river between Texas and Mexico.
President Trump has not yet formalized his request to Congress to pay for the wall he promised during his campaign. It’s expected to cost $15 billion or more, making it uncertain whether Congress would go along. President Trump has promised Mexico will pay, but Mexico says it won’t, and President Trump’s never spelled out how that would happen, anyway.
The administration is rolling out new policies to fight illegal immigration, and subjecting millions of people who are in this country to deportation, even for minor infractions. A group called La Union del Pueblo Entero announced plans to “protest the speaker’s visit in order to show the opposition of border residents to the current presidential administration’s immigration and border policies.”
Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, said that Ryan would “examine the challenges of securing our border and learn more about the issues facing border communities.”