During a visit to Key West on Thursday, President Donald Trump declared human trafficking worse now than throughout history and said a new border wall between the U.S. and Mexico will protect Americans from crime.
“We’re committed to securing our borders to reduce crime, illegal drugs, human trafficking,” Trump said, during a visit to the agency that oversees responses to drug trafficking.
“Drugs are flowing into our country,” Trump said. “We need border protection. We need the wall. We have to have the wall. The Democrats don’t want to approve the wall because they think it’s good politically, but it’s not.”
Trump added, “Human trafficking is worse than it’s ever been in the history of the world.”
The Joint Interagency Task Force South, a hub for coordinating drug interdiction efforts between more than a dozen U.S. agencies and an international coalition of nations located on a Navy base in downtown Key West.
“You have done really an incredible job,” Trump said, adding it was a “thankless job in many ways.”
JIATF said in 2017 it supported the removal of a record 283 metric tons of cocaine and five kilograms of heroin while helping detain 900 suspected members of drug trafficking organizations.
Trump also said “sanctuary cities" are losing popularity among Americans.
“If you look at what’s happening in California with sanctuary cities — people are really going the opposite way,” he said. “They don’t want sanctuary cities. There’s a little bit of a revolution going on in California.”
Trump’s visit Thursday was the first time in more than 55 years a sitting president has graced the island. He was met by supporters and protesters who were grouped and scattered across the motorcade route from Boca Chica air field, where Air Force One landed, and Key West.
Reporters who traveled in the motorcade to Key West said big crowds greeted the president along the route. Several people had American flags and signs, many supportive of the President, although one man carried a large “Dump Trump” sign while a lady in a bikini top and shorts hula-hooped next to him. Other signs read, “You’re fired,” and “Lock him up.”
“I’m outraged by the Trump presidency and I’m hoping to let him know that,” said Letitia Lawson of Key West, while standing outside of City Hall with an anti-Trump sign. “The Key West philosophy is not consistent with his philosophy. Therefore, he doesn’t belong here.”
Key West Mayor Craig Cates greeted Trump as he exited Air Force One. Trump for a few minutes spoke to well-wishers gathered at the Naval Air Station Key West for his arrival.
They included City Commissioners Sam Kaufman, Richard Payne, Margaret Romero and Billy Wardlow. Former commissioner Mark Rossi, who owns an entertainment complex that includes a strip club on Duval Street, was also present.