Trump tours Mexican border despite ‘great danger’

Donald Trump arrived in Laredo, Texas, on Thursday, telling a swarm of reporters after stepping off his private plane that he’s putting himself in “great danger” by touring the Mexican border without the protection of U.S. border patrol agents, “but I have to do it.”

The agents had planned to accompany the real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate on his tour of the border but backed out after consulting with union officials at the National Border Patrol Council.

Trump — who vowed to build a wall between Mexico and the United States to keep Mexican criminals and “rapists” from crossing the border — said the union was “petrified of saying” what is really happening on the ground.

At the airport, some Laredo residents held signs protesting Trump’s visit.

Some of the protesters chanted “dump Trump!”

Others chanted their support.

But at a press conference following his tour, Trump insisted that he felt warmly welcomed at the airport and didn’t hear anyone protesting him.

“I think I will win the Hispanic vote,” Trump declared.

“I employ thousands and thousands of Hispanics,” he said. “I love the people. They’re great workers. They’re fantastic people and they want legal immigration.”

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, a Democrat, welcomed Trump, saying his visit brought “excitement” to the border city.

Trump seemed to back away from his vow to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, saying a wall was needed in “certain sections.”

But Jesus Olivares, Laredo’s city manager who was praised by Trump, said a wall is “not necessary.”

Trump was cheered at a second, unscheduled press conference, where he shut down a Telemundo reporter who had asked if he would apologize for his comments about illegal Mexican immigrants.

Earlier Thursday, the Trump campaign released a statement saying it would proceed with the visit “despite the great danger.”

But as the Washington Post pointed out, Trump is statistically safer in Laredo than he is in New York City.

According to FBI data, the crime rate is lower in Laredo than in Trump’s hometown.

His border tour lasted roughly two hours.

“Trump loves to talk about his money, and I hope he’ll spend some of it while he’s in town,” Judith Zaffirini, a Democratic state senator from Laredo, wrote in an op-ed welcoming him. “He clearly has cash to burn, and anyone will tell you that Laredo’s booming economy offers a far better return on investment than a doomed presidential campaign.”