Demolishing America Brick by Brick: Building the Mexican Wall
"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I build them very inexpensively." (Donald Trump)
From Wednesday until the end of this week, Trump is planning to sign executive orders on restricting access to refugees and visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen as well as discuss the construction of a 2,000-mile wall along the border of Mexico.
On Tuesday night on Twitter he announced: “Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!” Among these many other things, Trump will also take actions against so-called sanctuary cities which protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. While sanctuary cities have no legal meaning and their very existence is based on ignoring the law and adopting “sanctuary policies”—which can be formal (enacted by local government) or informal (unwritten but sanctioned by a local government authority)—they are, nonetheless, little humane oases, respecting the rights of individuals and rejecting Trump’s politics of fear.
Wednesday’s actions on immigration are President Trump’s first attempts to demonstrate that he keeps his campaign promise for safeguarding the US from the dangers of illegal immigration. Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council, said: "Donald Trump is making good on the most shameful and discriminatory promises he made on the campaign trail.”
A tall, powerful, beautiful wall
During an immigration policy speech in Arizona, in August last year, Trump talked about an "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall." Trump might have been thinking of the ideal feminine form when he was talking about the wall, because I don’t think many of us imagine walls as being tall and beautiful.
With the exception of Trump himself, whenever the issue of the border wall is brought up, this is met with sneers or shrugs. This is not a laughing matter, however, because the amount of concrete to build a wall that runs five feet beneath the ground and 20 feet above will be massive and costly. Trump talked about $10 billion to $12 billion, but many engineers argue that it would be closer to $25 billion. Trump has said in the past that Mexico will pay for the wall, but former Mexican president Vicente Fox said: “I’m not going to pay for that.” On Thursday (26 January), BBC reported that the Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto said that "Mexico doesn't believe in walls" and reiterated that "Mexico won't pay for any wall.” He added: "I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us."
There is the problem of the wall passing through private land that would need to be purchased, but most importantly, the beautiful wall would mean the destruction of wildlife habitats and families.
Threat to families and the environment
On both sides of the Rio Grande, which runs between Mexico and Texas, there are communities with generations of family business relying on wildlife tourism. According to Newsweek, “wildlife watchers spend $463 million each year in the Rio Grande Valley, one of the most biodiverse places in North America, with more than 700 species of vertebrates alone. It sits at the convergence of two major flyways for migratory birds, and people come from all over the world for a chance to see some 500 different bird species.” From the time that the fence began in 2009 until 2011, when assistant professor of biology, Jesse Lasky co-authored his study on species in specialised habitats, the fence had reduced the range for certain species by 75%.
Laura Huffman, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Texas branch, said: “The fence is the very definition of habitat fragmentation, the very definition of what inhibits free movement of wildlife within its natural habitat.”
Any form of barrier, whether made of metal or concrete, means a dissection of the environment and of communities. It means the loss of certain species and threatens the cross-border relations and commerce established through the years.
But Trump is indifferent to what effects his actions might have on people and the environment. The prospect of a tall, impenetrable beautiful object that is up for grabs, is his ultimate fantasy and nothing will stop him from obtaining it.
Let’s see what Trump has accomplished this week:
While the week is not over yet, each day feels like it is part of an anti-creation story. If in the beginning of the Bible we read about God’s creation of the world in six days, then this week had apocalyptic overtones for some of us, with each day signalling the destruction and cancellation of important policies.
Monday: withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), restoration of the Mexico City Policy which cancels funding to organisations that perform and promote abortion, freezing of hiring federal employees. In other words: no global trade (this might be a good thing since it appears that the TPP would have benefitted multinationals rather than working families, as Bernie Sanders pointed out), no right to women’s bodies and less jobs.
Tuesday: signed executive orders to accelerate process for the construction of two pipelines (Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipeline), and three orders to advance environmental reviews for infrastructure projects, modernise permitting process for domestic manufacturing while asserting that pipeline companies buy American materials. In other words: destroy the environment “bigly.” Also, by speeding the process for environmental reviews, Trump is inviting a lawsuit.
Wednesday: immigration and border security. In other words: all of the above, plus lack of humanity.
There is still Thursday and Friday, which might include other executive orders related to immigration. Hopefully on the seventh day, the creator-Trump will rest, bigly. And if he does, he will rest with the satisfaction that every brick he removes from Obama’s monument is adding to the bigliness of his wall; which is gonna be “yuge.”