President Donald Trump visited the border wall prototypes that stand just a few feet from the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday during his first official visit to San Diego.
The president was joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and border agents and officers as he viewed the eight different prototypes that were built in October 2017.
Pool photographers who travel with the president captured the tour on video.
Holding side-by-side photos of the border south of San Diego with and without a physical border, Trump explained that a new modernized wall could stop close to 100 percent of illegal cross-border migration.
"We have a lousy wall over here now but at least it stops 90, 95 percent. When we put up the real wall we're going to stop 99 percent, maybe more than that," he said.
Trump previously ordered that the new wall be between 18 and 30 feet tall, be able to blend in with its surroundings and withstand a 30-minute attack.
"For the people that say, 'No Wall' if you didn't have walls over here, you wouldn't even have a country," President Trump said.
He went on to say the state of California was "begging" for the federal government to build walls in other areas. "They won't talk about that," he said.
Of the prototypes, the president said he prefers something that was transparent because that way you can see what's on the other side of the wall. He also added that a slatted wall might be more susceptible to damage, though.
Moments after Air Force One took off from MCAS Miramar, the president tweeted that "If we don't have a wall system, we're not going to have a country."
His tweet, a rehash of comments he made during a brief formal news conference at the end of his tour, pressured Congress to fund the wall project and prohibit grants to so-called sanctuary cities.
The president arrived in San Diego just before 11:30 a.m. when Air Force One touched down on the tarmac at MCAS Miramar. He spoke to several military officials and walked directly to Marine One.
Two helicopters trailed by three Ospreys flew over central San Diego to make the 30-mile trip south to Brown Field near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit over a law that went into effect January declaring California a sanctuary state.
While standing near the border, the president was asked for his opinion on Gov. Jerry Brown who on Monday invited Trump to see the state's plans for building a high-speed train.
"The governor is doing a terrible job running the state of California. I have property in California," the president said. "The taxes are way out of whack."
Before the afternoon commute began, the president was on his way to Los Angeles International Airport where he will participate in a roundtable with members of the Republican National Committee in Santa Monica.
Later in the afternoon, a group led by DACA recipients and undocumented young people rallied at San Diego's Waterfront Park against the president's immigration agenda.
Organizers say there was a real concern that members of the undocumented community wouldn't show up near where the President was earlier today for fear they might be detained.
Extra security was in place for the president's visit including road closures and restrictions on parking near the border wall prototypes. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department also issued a number of banned items from the area including poles for flags or banners.
Ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border were not closed during the president's visit, according to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement officials.
On the Mexico side of the border, streets near the prototypes were blocked off. Tractor-trailer rigs were parked along the U.S. side of the fence to block the view from Mexico. Some photographers and journalists used vehicles or risers to get high enough to see the visit.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen arrived in San Diego Monday on her way home from South Korea.
Nielsen spent the morning getting an aerial tour of the border wall prototypes before landing at the U.S. Coast Guard. She also got a tour of some of San Diego’s most important ports, by boat.
It was Nielsen’s first visit to San Diego since her confirmation in December 2017.
Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed California's law declaring itself a sanctuary state harms agents. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit challenging laws in California that are considered some of the most generous protections in the nation for immigrants facing deportation.
On Feb. 27, the Trump administration prevailed in a federal lawsuit brought by the state of California and advocacy groups that was aimed at halting the construction of a proposed border wall south of San Diego.
The lawsuit had argued that the administration overreached by waiving laws requiring environmental and other reviews before construction can begin.