Trump visits Illinois to tout steel tariffs

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GRANITE CITY, IL - President Donald Trump traveled to southern Illinois Thursday to visit the Granite City Works Steel Coil Warehouse amid harsh criticism of the recent tariffs he imposed. 

Granite City Works is a steel mill that is reopening its doors after President Trump imposed tariffs on imports of foreign steel from Mexico, China and other nations. The factory is located in the Metro East area of Illinois, near St. Louis.

The Trump administration added a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Trump claims the tariffs are saving American jobs. However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the tariffs are the wrong approach and are taking a toll on businesses.  

A longtime worker said everyone is ecstatic about President Trump’s arrival. 

“Well, I speak on behalf of almost everyone here at the mill. I feel ecstatic that he's coming to Granite City,” Keith Dufresne said. “I mean it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the president of the United States, so it's a good feeling." 

A former steel mill worker had a cardboard cutout of Trump to show support. He said the steel mill means a lot to this city. 

"It's really the heart of this town,” Larry Allen said. "If it wasn't for Granite City steel, there wouldn't be much going on here."

He said Trump has revitalized this town. 

This visit follows his trip to Kansas City on Tuesday, where he praised Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. 

Trump visited Dubuque, Iowa before his visit to Illinois on Thursday. 

Hundreds of people waited for Trump’s arrival along 19th Street near the steel mill building. Some of them were holding Trump/Pence posters and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. 

They waited for hours to sneak a peek of the president. After the president’s motorcade drove through, most said it was worth the wait. 

"It looks like America is getting back to work and everybody's rolling up their sleeves and working together and coming together as one country,” Jim Strickland said. “That's what we need right now." 

Hundreds of protesters gathered just a few blocks away at Civic Park to protest Trump’s visit. They said they were protesting Trump’s administration as well as the tariffs. 

Some people held up signs like “tariffs not worth my soul” and “lock him up.” Protestors even inflated a giant Trump chicken balloon as well as a smaller one in the center of the park. 

Many of the protestors were angry about Trump’s tariffs. One farmer at the protest said she has been impacted by the tariffs.

"Take away the tariffs," Paula Shelton said. "Do not give us a bailout. Not one farmer wants the bailout."

“I’m very upset with what he has done to put tariffs on our commodities, soybeans and our corn,” she added. 

There were some counter-protesters holding up signs supporting Trump at the protest. 

The protest was over before 5 p.m.