Donald Trump has been obsessed with building a wall on the US-Mexico border since his presidential infancy.
Having reportedly plugged $3.2bn into its planning and construction, it would seem that there is no length the President won’t go to ensure that he manages to resurrect a fifty ft concrete slab between North and Central America during his time in the White House.
His main angst seemed to stem from Mexican asylum-seekers and migrants in particular, who during his election campaign he paid special attention to smearing.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best” he stated during his announcement speech. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
It is through this kind of rhetoric that Trump has been able to justify the building of his infamous border wall. Since his election campaign, this has remained a singular focus for him and his administration and, despite his early claim that he would “make Mexico pay for it”, he has not been shy in using tax-funded budgets for its construction.
During his reign, his commitment to this cause hasn’t waned. In fact, it seems to have gotten stronger; two journalists at the New York Times uncovered reports this Summer which show the President suggesting a range of brutal and outlandish tactics to ensure that the wall be reinforced even further, with suggestions including a crocodile-infested moat, electrified spikes, and guards positioned to stop those who try to climb it by “shoot[ing] them in the legs”.
…despite his early claim that he would “make Mexico pay for it”, he has not been shy in using tax-funded budgets for its construction.
So when, earlier this year, it became clear that a physical border between the US and Mexico may never be feasible, he set about making alternative plans.
Since his election, the President has introduced a range of hostile procedures and laws to penalise and restrict people seeking asylum in the US. These which initially promised to reinforce the wall, but have now taken a central role in his relentless persecution of Central American migrants.
The “zero-tolerance policy”, as his administration has coined it, is an immigration policy intended to increase criminal prosecution of people ‘illegally’ entering the US. The most controversial aspect of the policy focussed on separating babies, children, and teens from their parents when they reached the border, with almost 3,000 children separated from their parents last Summer, and reports of toddlers being forced to sleep in cages on the floor. Although this was briefly halted in June 2018 by a federal judge, the zero-tolerance policy has been allowed to continue, despite human rights campaigners, organisations, lawyers, and judges declaring it in breach of human rights laws on several occasions.
In response to this pressure, Trump began finding other ways to discourage vulnerable people from finding their way to safety in the US. This Summer, his administration passed a Bill which restricted asylum-seekers from claiming refuge in the US if they had passed through any other country to get there. This primarily penalises migrants from central America – from countries like El Salvador and Guatemala – who need to pass through Mexico to get to the US border.
…3,000 children [were] separated from their parents last Summer, amid reports of toddlers being forced to sleep in cages on the floor in detention facicilities.
Various campaigners opposed this on human rights grounds, with the Jess Morales Rocketto (chair of a coalition of groups which opposed the crackdown) saying that it summed up the Trump administration’s relentless discrimination towards Central American migrants:
“All parents want freedom and opportunity for their children,” she said. “But when it comes to the American dream, Trump and his Republican allies are saying: ‘Latinos need not apply’.”
No physical wall may ever be constructed between the US and Mexico, but that is not to say significant barriers aren’t being constructed through other means. Trump is building his wall: we just can’t see it with our eyes.
Featured image credit: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/us-news/donald-trump-wants-buy-greenland-18948804