Trump defies boycott to visit US-Mexico border

 Donald Trump touched down by private jet at the Texas-Mexico border on Thursday and walked headlong into fresh controversy as a border agents union announced it was boycotting his visit.

AFP| Updated: Jul 24, 2015, 04:12 AM IST

New York: Donald Trump touched down by private jet at the Texas-Mexico border on Thursday and walked headlong into fresh controversy as a border agents union announced it was boycotting his visit.

The real estate mogul and White House contender, who is well ahead of his Republican rivals in most polls, is running an aggressive campaign that has condemned illegal immigration.

He stepped off his passenger jet, emblazoned with Trump on the fuselage, wearing a navy blazer, khaki pants and a white baseball hat with his campaign slogan "Make America Great Again."

Trump`s team say he will tour the town of Laredo, which has a population that is 95.6 percent Hispanic or Latino, visit the border, address local law enforcement and deliver a press conference.

The eccentric 69-year-old multi-billionaire has caused widespread outrage for accusing illegal immigrants from Mexico of importing crime, rape and drugs into the United States.

But a border patrol union said it was boycotting the visit "after careful consideration of all the factors involved."

The League of United Latin American Citizens is also protesting Trump`s visit.

"Make no mistake, our border with Mexico is not secure and there`s no doubt that we need to have an honest discussion about that," said the National Border Patrol Council.

"Our intention to meet with Mr. Trump was to provide a `boots on the ground` perspective to not only Mr. Trump, but to the media that would be in attendance at this event," it said.

But it added that the local branch of the union "does not endorse candidates for any political office."

Trump issued a rapid-fire response, claiming the union had been silenced by superiors in Washington DC "who do not want people to know bad it is on the border."

The visit would continue "despite the great danger," he said in a statement, alleging that union members "are being silenced, and are very unhappy about it."The former reality TV star has hogged the headlines with outlandish remarks and media stunts, lampooning rivals, insulting career politicians and castigating illegal immigrants.

Companies such as Macy`s, Univision and NBC have cut ties with Trump, but the mogul has refused to tone down his rhetoric.

On Tuesday, he called rival candidate Senator Lindsey Graham "a total lightweight" and in a stunning breach of etiquette read out Graham`s cell phone number and urged people to call him.

The same day, he mocked former Texas governor Rick Perry for wearing glasses just "so people think he`s smart."

Over the weekend, he provoked a backlash among Republican faithful by trash-talking Vietnam war hero Senator John McCain, one of America`s most respected politicians.

McCain, at the time a navy aviator, was held prisoner five years and tortured after being shot down. But Trump was unimpressed.

"He`s not a war hero," he said in remarks that were widely condemned. "I like people that weren`t captured, OK?"

But by ruffling the feathers of the Republican establishment and turning almost all his presidential rivals against him, he has dominated news coverage about the nascent election campaign.

His rivals, for their part, have launched counter-attacks on Trump -- in part to raise their own profiles in a crowded field of Republican presidential aspirants that now numbers 16.

"Donald Trump`s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded," Perry said in particularly harsh remarks on Wednesday.

One recent opinion poll puts him far into the lead in the race for the 2016 Republican nomination, the favorite at 24 percent.

He outpaced his rivals Scott Walker, at 13 percent, and Jeb Bush at 12 percent, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll.