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.

A New Documentary Exposes The Massacre In Porvenir, Texas That Left 15 Mexican-Americans Dead

Entertainment

A New Documentary Exposes The Massacre In Porvenir, Texas That Left 15 Mexican-Americans Dead

porvenirmovie / Instagram

Porvenir is a Spanish word. If you break it down, por venir literally means to come, and the translation is the future. It’s also the name of what used to be a tiny town in Texas located right next to the Rio Grande on the border. The village of Porvenir in Texas, which is a town no more, had roots that reflect the brutal and deadly colonization that this country was built on. 

“Porvenir, Texas” is a new documentary on PBS that brings to light the massacre that happened on the border more than 100 years ago. 

Credit: porvenirmovie / Instagram

As the tense immigration crisis continues in this country today, the documentary “Porvenir, Texas” shows how this struggle has been part of our history since the inception of the United States of America. 

The story of the massacre cannot be told before discussing the war between the U.S. and Mexico. While the U.S. continued to expand in the southwest through its war with Mexico, the battle to live and remain in the country affected the most vulnerable people who weren’t part of the war at all. They were Mexicans who lived in Texas and along the border before it was ever part of the United States. However, after Mexico lost Texas to the United States, those living in Texas, became Americans overnight. That didn’t please the incoming residents — white people looking to make the country their home. 

The documentary exposes the brutal killing of 15 Mexican men — some who were American as well — which the U.S. tried to hide from history. 

Credit: porvenirmovie / Instagram

With the expansion of the U.S. throughout its new state of Texas, white ranchers staked their claim in areas that were owned by Mexican-Americans. Like gentrification today, Texas was also gentrified during the Wild West, which meant Mexicans, who were now Americans, were displaced because of higher taxes. 

With the revolution still going on in the Mexican border and new white ranchers taking over land, racial tensions were high. White people were told that all Mexicans were “bandits” and Mexican-Americans were in fear for their lives thinking they could be killed based on the color of their skin.

White people were killing Mexican-Americans outright with no consequences, and the film shows graphic images of that. 

Credit: porvenirmovie / Instagram

Here’s a summary of that fateful violent night as reported by NBC News: “In the early morning hours of Jan. 28, 1918, a group of ranchers, Texas Rangers, and U.S. Army cavalry soldiers entered the village and rousted the residents from their beds. They led away 15 unarmed men and boys of Mexican descent to a nearby bluff, where they shot and killed them. These victims ranged in age from 16 to 72, and some were American citizens. The town’s women and children fled across the border to Mexico for safety. The next day, the perpetrators returned and burned the village to the ground. Porvenir ceased to exist.”

We have no idea how many other Mexican-Americans were killed with such brutality during this period because there’s no record of it. The only reason the story of Porvenir can be told today is because of two men that documented what happened. 

Credit: porvenirmovie / Instagram

Harry Warren was a white teacher that worked with some of the community in Porvenir and wrote about what happened that night. He also was a witness to the bodies.  José Tomás (“J.T.”) Canales, who was a state legislator at the time, launched an investigation against the Rangers, and his depositions and testimony have been preserved as well. 

“There were many cases like Porvenir, where the initial response from the state was to try to fabricate what really took place,” Monica Muñoz Martinez, an assistant professor at Brown University and the founding member of the public history project Refusing To Forget, told NBC News. “It was not unusual for the state to try to justify such acts, by criminalizing the victims. Residents of Porvenir were described at times as squatters or bandits. None of this is true.”

Christina Fernandez Shapter produced the film and spoke about the importance of making sure these stories are never forgotten. 

Credit: jefegreenheart / Instagram

“I am Mexican American myself, I am from Texas, my family has been here for generations,” she told NBC News. “And I know we all have stories in our families, sometimes of land being taken from us or other injustices.”

Here’s a clip of the film.

Click here to watch the entire documentary. 

READ: This Exhibition Told The Stories Of Mexicans And Mexican-Americans Who Were Illegally Deported In The ’20s And ’30s

She Is A Former Undocumented Immigrant And Now She’s Running For Congress As A Republican Who Wants To Build Trump’s Wall

Things That Matter

She Is A Former Undocumented Immigrant And Now She’s Running For Congress As A Republican Who Wants To Build Trump’s Wall

Whittney Williams, a young Taiwanese Republican and formerly undocumented immigrant supports Donald Trump’s immigration policy and is running for Congress in Michigan. Despite living in the United States without her papers for 16 years, she is happy to throw Latinxs under the bus or into alligator-infested moats to score political points with a racist constituency that likely would never vote for an Asian American.

As of 2019, there are only 13 Asian-Americans in Congress and three on the Senate — all of them are Democrats. Asian American representation is sorely lacking in the American political system, but is Williams the person best suited to advocate for their interests? That’s not up for me to decide. However, her stance on immigration ain’t it. 

There are currently 102 women serving in congress out of 435 congresspeople. Guess how many of those women are republicans: 13 out of 102

The Republican Party has been pursuing legislation that many consider racist and sexist. When you align with them as a woman of color they don’t suddenly start to align with your politics, rather they expect you to align with theirs which means possibly supporting racist, sexist, and xenophobic policies.

Williams talks about how difficult it was growing up undocumented but her policy positions will make life for currently undocumented immigrants even more difficult.

“I was brought to America from Taiwan as a 10-year-old girl without knowing a word of English,” Williams says in a campaign ad. “My family overstayed their visas, and as a result, I spent the next 16 years living in the shadows as an illegal immigrant.” 

Williams was undocumented against her will like many children are. Her parents entered the United States using tourist visas in 1992, but stayed long after the visas expired. Williams did not acquire U.S. citizenship until 2013 after getting married. 

“If someone knew (about your immigration status), if you told somebody, they could take advantage of you. It’s a constant fear. And you’re constantly told, ‘Oh, you’re an illegal immigrant,’ not, you know, human. That takes a toll on you as you hear that constantly,” she said on MLive. 

Wow, sounds terrible I guess we should punish everyone in similar situations because reasons… 

Williams wants to “stop the flow” of immigrants. 

Williams wants to curtail immigration in the U.S. and believes building a wall on the southern border would “stop the flow” of migrants. 

“When you look at a problem, of course, you want to stop it first, so you can resolve what’s in here, because if you keep having this flow … this number here is just going to get bigger and bigger,” she told MLive.

The United States is not so densely populated that it can’t afford more immigrants. In fact, immigrants are necessary for our labor force due to low birth rates. So far, Trump’s wall has cost taxpayers $6.2 billion and only 60 miles, of the 2000-mile border, have had their pre-existing fences built. That money can’t go to immigrants? Trump’s trip to play golf have cost taxpayers $340 million. That money can’t go to immigrants? Immigrants are not a burden on our society and these GOP morons need to stop touting this inaccurate talking point. 

You want to stop immigration, then the U.S. needs to support folks in other countries so they don’t have to flee. Few politicians so much as mention this besides Julian Castro who proposed a Marshall Plan in Central America — oh, and he’s a Democrat by the way. 

A broken clock is right twice a day. Williams says Democrats don’t do enough for immigrants. 

Williams says Democrats don’t go far enough on immigration — and I agree. The Obama administration deported more immigrants than any other administration. That will always be a blemish on his and the Democrat’s legacy. 

 “Politicians knew of us: They called us ‘Dreamers,’ and quite frankly, used us as political props for their own personal gain,” she said. 

Yes, the Democratic party likes to trot out immigrants and other marginalized people for political clout but rarely listens to us — but that is not the point. While the Democratic party is imperfect, it is a false equivalency to suggest they are pursuing policies that throw children in cages and would suggest shooting migrants in the legs.

The Democratic party is changing, it has hope to be reformed. We have A.O.C., Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Deb Haaland, and an ever-evolving coalition of people of color and immigrants, indigenous folk, and women who are fighting institutionalists with us and for us right now.

Meanwhile, the Republican party just announced it would be stealing DNA from detained immigrants and entering it into a criminal database. Williams, whose side are you really on?