Things That Matter

Why “The Wall” Became Such A Lightning Rod For The Right And How Trump Capitalized On Its Complicated History

We all know that Trump 2016 campaign rested heavily on a promise to build “The Wall” that would keep Mexico’s “rapists” and “bad hombres” out of the United States. The premise of a wall along the southern border is meant to represent national security.

While we don’t need to explain the consequences of scapegoating a race, religion or nationality in world history (read: The Holocaust, mass genocide, and now child concentration camps), the United States has a unique history of political campaigning for “The Wall.”

We already have ongoing construction to impede access from Mexico into the United States.

@Breaking911 / Twitter

The United States has already spend perhaps billions of dollars on building a defensive wall along the border. We don’t have “open borders” and Democrats are not calling for “open borders,” as the GOP loves to exclaim.

“The Wall” was born during World War I.

@DurhamGala / Twitter

At the time, the U.S.’s agricultural industry was hopeful for immigrants to come to the U.S. to work in their fields. That economical need made it so that there were no restrictions on Mexican immigration. The vigilante border patrol group at the time was mostly targeting Chinese immigrants.

Congress created the U.S. Border Patrol in 1924.

@CBP / Twitter

With that agency in its infancy, Congress was then able to begin funding its purpose, one of which was to build a wall. Tin walls and standard fences were built, and neglected. Kelly Lytle Hernandez is a UCLA professor and author of “Migra!: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol.” In her book, she said that, “As the walls got higher, the tunnels got deeper.”

“The walls served as psychological solutions that didn’t work,” Hernandez writes.

@TheWhiteHouse / Twitter

President Richard Nixon rallied the call for The Wall greater than any President before him.At the time, The Wall wasn’t a symbol for keeping scary brown people out. It was meant to help stop the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. from the cartel.

NAFTA hurt Mexico’s agricultural economy in the 1990s, prompting the Great Migration.

@karinapalomoo / Twitter

Millions of migrants started entering a United States with new immigration restrictions for more agricultural opportunities. The border fences that were erected in response were only in high population areas like San Diego and El Paso. Those new walls prompted migrants to risk their lives by crossing Arizona desert.

Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer all voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, signed by President George W. Bush.

@CBP / Twitter

That said, at the time, Republicans were trying to push a bill that would automatically make every undocumented immigrant a felon. The fence itself is what we see at the border today, spanning 700 miles of the 2,000 border. The GOP tried to gaslight Democrats by accusing the party as inconsistent. Today, Democrats think Trump’s wall is over-the-top and far too expensive to be worthwhile. During Trump’s campaign, he criticized the 2006 fence as “such a little wall, it was such a nothing wall.”

In 2011, President Obama declared that metaphorical Wall as “now basically complete.”

@disavowtrump2020 / Twitter

The GOP contested this, given that half the border is incomplete, though the vast majority of it are natural barriers like mountains and deserts.

“There are always planes,” says Hernandez.

@CBPMarkMorgan / Twitter
“There will always be other ways to get across,” she says. Democrats as a whole oppose Trump’s proposed border wall because they know it isn’t the solution. Throwing $12 billion U.S. taxpayer’s dollars at a concrete wall does not prevent tunnels. It does not resolve the problems in migrants’ countries of origins that force them to flee. It will just cost lives.

Conclusion: “The Wall” is a psychological barrier, not a solution.

@thehill / Twitter
That psychological barrier doesn’t block resilient, creative and desperate migrants. It’s an opioid for Trump’s masses. It may help those Americans feel safer, but it is not effective. Those billions of dollars could be used on education, on free health care, on, I don’t know, giving detained children toothpaste and soap. Better yet, that money could be spent on hiring more immigration court judges instead of allowing privatized detention facilities to house immigrants on America’s dime.
Of all the solutions, The Wall ain’t one.

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Activist Couple Was Married At The Border Wall Where They First Met Six Years Ago

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Activist Couple Was Married At The Border Wall Where They First Met Six Years Ago

Alexandra Mendoza / Getty Images

With all the uncertainty and traumatic news happening around us, it’s so encouraging to hear stories like this one. And that’s exactly what this couple had in mind when deciding to have their wedding ceremony at the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Tijuana – the same spot they met six years ago.

In marrying at the border wall, these two deportees wanted to bring attention to their respective causes (they both head support groups for recent deportees) while giving hope to those who are facing deportation.

Their message for those who face the traumatic experience of deportation is that life goes on and no matter which side of the border you are on, you’ll fine love, be embraced by family, and chase your dreams.

An activist couple celebrated their marriage with a ceremony at the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Yolanda Varona and Héctor Barajas celebrated their love for another this past weekend, in front of the wall that divides San Diego and Tijuana. The same wall that separated them from their loved ones. The same wall where they met.

The couple met six years ago to the date, on the Mexican side of Friendship Park, while defending their respective causes. Varona is an advocate for recently deported mothers while Barajas works to help recently deported veterans.

“Someone told me go to the wall and that I’d find a veteran who was also deported and maybe with him I’d be able to do the activism that I long had wanted to do,” she told the San Diego Union Tribune in an interview.

She added that the veteran kind of intimidated her with his uniform and good looks so she asked him if she could take a picture with him to help break the ice. The pair have been inseparable ever since that ‘date’ in 2014.

Having legally celebrated their marriage back in August, the couple decided to host the ceremony with family and friends at the same spot they first met.

For both, this ceremony was important to send a message of hope to other migrant families.

Credit: Alexandra Mendoza / Getty Images

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribue, Varona, who leads the DREAMers Moms group in Tijuana, said, “It is very symbolic because this wall separated us from our children, but it reminds us that there is life out here too and we can continue fighting from here.”

All too often the story of deportation is one of an ending. However, regardless of how traumatic and difficult the experience is, it’s important to remembre that life goes on. There is a strong community in Mexico formed from those who have been deported – and many different resources to help those readjust to their new lives.

During their special ceremony, the groom couldn’t hide his happiness. “She has always been there for me, and I want to continue to be a better person, and I know good things will come for us,” he said during their ceremony.

The couple were accompanied by friends, including members of their communities: deported mothers and veterans. The ceremony was brief, given that the beaches of Tijuana are open on reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there was no lack of dancing between the couple in front of the sunset.

Their activism work brought them together but they both share similar stories as well.

Varona, who lived with her family in San Diego, was deported more than a decade ago, while Barajas, a former United States Army trooper, was involved in an altercation and after serving a year and a half in prison was repatriated to his native Mexico in 2004.

Determined to return to the U.S, Varona made another attempt at living in the U.S. without documentation but she was subsequently deported again in 2010. Upon being sent back to Tijuana, she founded the support group for deported mothers.

Barajas founded the support group for deported veterans after arriving back in Tijuana. However, in 2018, he was granted a pardon by then Governor of California, Jerry Brown, and he was able to return to the U.S. to complete the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen.

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As Trump Rushes To Build More Border Wall Before The Election, Here’s A Timeline Of His Border Wall Failures

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As Trump Rushes To Build More Border Wall Before The Election, Here’s A Timeline Of His Border Wall Failures

Saul Loeb / Getty Images

With just 34 days to go until the election, Trump is in an all out mission to build as much border wall as he can. Throughout his 2016 campaign and his time in the White House, he has made his vanity project a key component in his identity as president.

He’s used it to ratchet up xenophobia and to implement his draconian immigration policies while also using it to build support among his die hard MAGA-loving supporters. But there’s just one problem: Trump has completely failed in his mission to deliver a border wall to his supporters.

Since the 2016 election, according to the LA Times, the Trump Administration has only built 5 new miles of border wall – yes, just five miles of border wall along a 1,954 mile long border.

However, the larger point is that we are still wasting billions of dollars to built an apartheid wall twice as tall as the Berlin Wall. It’s a complete waste of money and it’s wreaking havoc on our environment, politics, and security.

Trump is racing to complete more border wall in time for the November election.

The election is just over a month away and the Trump administration is quickly realizing that one of Trump’s biggest promises to his supporters, remains unfulfilled. This has led to an all out push to construct additional border wall, with construction crews now adding nearly two miles per day. It is an unprecedented pace toward meeting one of Trump’s signature 2016 campaign promises.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) say that the rate of construction has nearly doubled since the beginning of the year, accelerated by the government’s ability to cut through national forests, wildlife preserves and other public lands already under federal control.

The rapid pace of construction has had the biggest impact in Arizona. There, crews have literally blasted through protected areas and federal lands — areas where the administration is able to bypass environmental laws, archaeological reviews and other safeguards.

In fact, crews have been using dynamite to level the steep sides of Guadalupe Canyon, a rugged span where the cost of the barrier exceeds $41 million per mile. Across the state at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, border agents have forcefully broken up protests by members of the O’odham Nation attempting to block the bulldozers near ancestral burial sites and a fragile desert oasis.

Officials hope to hold a ceremony celebrating 400-miles of new border wall before the election.

Trump is hoping to celebrate the 400-mile mark with a major celebration touting his great success on the border wall. But as earlier figures show, it’s all a sham. Most of the border wall that’s being built is not new.

However, Mark Morgan, the acting CBP commissioner, told reporters that the president has proved his doubters and critics wrong.

“Even as the nonbelievers, the folks who have been out there for a very long time who said we were never going to get this done, what I refer to as the judicial activism of lower courts that have tried to stop our construction of the wall, the false narratives and, quite frankly, the lies out there about the effectiveness and need of the wall — despite all that — this president has remained steadfast in his commitment, his commitment to the American people and to the men and women of CBP,” said Morgan, erroneously claiming the government was building 10 miles per day.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden says he will shut down border wall construction if elected president.

As with so much else, the future of the wall project is contingent on the outcome of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Biden has been very open about his plan to immediately end construction of the border wall if elected. This could be a big shock to the giant industry that has sprouted up to build the wall. Crews have been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on at least five locations on the border, according to officials overseeing the project who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Washington Post.

“There will not be another foot of wall construction in my administration,” Biden said in August during an interview with reporters from the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Biden said he favors “high tech” systems that rely on surveillance technology and would direct resources to the legal border crossings where most illegal narcotics are seized.

Despite the lack of new construction, CBP officials are already calling the wall a success.

Officials say that the increase in apprehensions of migrants caught hiding in tractor trailers or coming ashore on California beaches is proof that the border wall is working. But that just simply isn’t the case when you’ve only built 5-miles of border wall.

Meanwhile, even though it’s patently false, Trump continues to deceive the public with claims that Mexico is footing the bill. Mexico is not paying for the wall.

The president has obtained $15 billion in federal funds for the project, but just one-third of that money has been authorized by Congress. The rest, nearly $10 billion, has been diverted from the U.S. military budget, giving Trump enough to build 738 miles of new barriers, or enough to cover more than a third of the 2,000-mile boundary with Mexico.

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