Immigration: Donald Trump at the foot of the "wall"

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In Texas, the dreams of millions of migrants are breaking on the border between the United States and Mexico. While Donald Trump, during the recent mid-term campaign, said he wanted to protect his country against the famous Central American "caravan" that is coming to the United States these days, we tried to see what the famous "wall".

It is not yet America for the "caravan" of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador. After crossing Mexico, nearly 3000 arrived, for many, in Tijuana, the Mexican city of Baja California, hoping to obtain political asylum in the United States. Queues are forming at the El Chaparral border post to register on a list of asylum seekers, but US authorities, who receive 30 to 90 migrants a day, say they are overwhelmed.

Months for registration

Nearly 5000 other members of this caravan are expected to arrive the next days. It may be months before the records of these Central American families are studied by the National Institute of Migration. Meanwhile, they are housed in improvised camps, including an outdoor sports complex in Tijuana, a city where the reception of the inhabitants was very hostile. Facebook groups "anti-caravan" have even been formed.


In Tijuana, migrants from Honduras are welcomed in a gymnasium. Photo John MOORE / AFP

In Tijuana, migrants from Honduras are welcomed in a gymnasium. Photo John MOORE / AFP

This "caravan" has been in the headlines of the American press for many weeks. Since, especially, that Donald Trump, had seized this subject like campaign theme of the elections of mid-mandate. Hoping to gather the Republican camp around a stricter immigration policy, and rally to him the extremist fringes of the American right, hostile to foreigners.

Trump more discreet on the subject since the elections

If the poll saw the Democrats seize the House of Representatives, while the Republicans managed to keep the Senate, immigration, propelled central theme of this campaign, it seems it did not have the effect in his favor for the American president. Via the social network Twitter – his favorite communication thread – Donald Trump had not hesitated to relay daily false profiles of migrants, alleged killers, gangsters, even considering that jihadists were hiding in this caravan. Once the vote passed, he was much more discreet on this sensitive subject. He returned on Saturday, November 17, ironically on the wishes of migrants (see below).


At the passage of the customs between United States and Mexico, in El Paso. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

At the passage of the customs between United States and Mexico, in El Paso. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

The Rio Grande, or what's left of it, between the two countries. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

The Rio Grande, or what's left of it, between the two countries. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

It has been several weeks since some migrants from Central America wait on the American border in El Paso. Well before the "caravan". Photo Xavier FRÈRE

It has been several weeks since some migrants from Central America wait on the American border in El Paso. Well before the "caravan". Photo Xavier FRÈRE

But in recent weeks, and in the middle of the electoral campaign, the host of the White House had mainly announced the arrival in reinforcement, on the American-Mexican border, of more than 6000 soldiers. The operation even had a name "Operation Faithful Patriot", which the Pentagon has said to give up on November 7, because it has too much "political" connotation. These soldiers were scattered along the border between Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California, the four American states bordering Mexico.

Pharaonic cost of the wall

He had also made the "wall" at the border a promise of campaign. Did he hold it? The project is pharaonic and began, timidly, in pieces: the cost for 3100 km of border would reach 21, 6 billion dollars according to the first estimates, each piece of a height of 10 m costing the trifle from 300 000 to 500 000 euros each. He is not the first American president to consider such a construction, and to clearly display his rejection of massive immigration: George Bush, a native of Texas, reinforced the devices before him, and even Barack Obama, contrary to popular belief during his two terms, he has been able to obtain the right to asylum in the United States.


In El Paso, the bridge that connects the United States and Mexico above the Rio Grande. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

In El Paso, the bridge that connects the United States and Mexico above the Rio Grande. Photo Xavier FRÈRE
Cecilia realized her American dream, becoming a resident of El Paso Photo Xavier FRERE
Cecilia realized her American dream, becoming a resident of El Paso Photo Xavier FRERE

But where is this famous "wall"? In El Paso, a frontier town of 800,000, which faces Juarez, Mexico, considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world, it is essentially very high barbed wire that separates the two cities, the two countries, above the mythical Rio Grande, or what is left of it, ie a small thread of dark water and embedded in concrete. There is no recent wall on the horizon, as border control officers (CBP), in their green and white 4 X 4s, tirelessly roam the area, looking for illegal and / or illegal immigrants.

Realize his American dream

"I do not think they really started building it, at least not in El Paso," says Cecilia, a 22-year-old restaurant employee who has just been granted her official resident card in the United States. She has just crossed, with her 13-year-old Mexican niece, the famous "Passage du Nord" bridge between the two countries. "Every time I come back to the United States, I have a heart that vibrates: I really realized my American dream".


Fort Hancock (Texas) one of the crossing points to Mexico. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Fort Hancock (Texas) one of the crossing points to Mexico. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

In Fort Hancock, 1700 inhabitants, almost a ghost town. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

In Fort Hancock, 1700 inhabitants, almost a ghost town. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Fort Hancock, former fort, city of western, Texas, that would not have denied John Ford. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Fort Hancock, former fort, city of western, Texas, that would not have denied John Ford. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Fort Hancock, one hour drive from El Paso and Juarez. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Fort Hancock, one hour drive from El Paso and Juarez. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Most illegals try to cross the border in open country, rarely in the city. Sometimes they use tunnels dug by Mexican smugglers. "It has become a business, the passage," smiles Alberto, a young salesman who lives in Juarez, "it is the cartels, most often, who control the entire organization." Sometimes with the complicity of some American "controllers" of CBP. In 2016, a report by the US authorities highlighted the risk of "endemic corruption" present within the force. This is largely infiltrated by drug cartels and dozens of agents have been returned.

Fort Hancock, ghost border city

It is necessary to go in the open countryside, one hour drive from El Paso, rolling east, to discover pieces of newly developed wall. As in Fort Hancock, a ghost town of 1713 inhabitants – it seems – neither John Ford nor David Lynch would have denied for the atmosphere of their films. In 1918, federal troops were already brought to this town to protect the United States from "Mexican brigands", argues local history, claiming that these outlaws were formed by "German agents". But Fort Hancock, like other small towns deemed sensitive, for their proximity to the Rio Grande and Mexico, saw the construction of a piece of wall, about 5 kilometers, dominated, in bottom, by the mountains of the Chihuahua.


A wall segment at Fort Hancock, several kilometers long. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

A wall segment at Fort Hancock, several kilometers long. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

There is a border post at Fort Hancock, much less used than El Paso, but just as secure. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

There is a border post at Fort Hancock, much less used than El Paso, but just as secure. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Border Guard Station at Fort Hancock. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Border Guard Station at Fort Hancock. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

"Looking for the wall? It is there, opposite, a few hundred meters, but beware, there are traps with channels," warns Angie, LA restorer of Fort Hancock. His boui-boui, where "truckers are welcome", leaning against the only gas station for miles around, is the only one open. Angie agrees to take photos of her "Chez Angie" restaurant, an American and Mexican restaurant, but does not want to expand further on the "wall". In front of his restaurant is the local police. A little further down, towards the Rio Grande, one sees the border post with the agents of the CPB.


At Angie, one of the few restaurants in Fort Hancock. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

At Angie, one of the few restaurants in Fort Hancock. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

The only "road" in the area, for miles around. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

The only "road" in the area, for miles around. Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Chez Angie: "Looking for the wall?" Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Chez Angie: "Looking for the wall?" Photo Xavier FRÈRE

Illegal deaths from dehydration

By car, on dry sand tracks that day, we walk along the wall for a few hundred meters. It is surrounded by a minimum of vegetation. But make no mistake: Fort Hancock, long considered a breach, allowing the passage in the United States of illegal immigrants, has metamorphosed into a barrage. Even mortal. A nearly impassable fence 18 feet high (5.5 meters). According to local witnesses, quoted a few years ago in a CNN news report, there were hundreds of deaths in Fort Hancock. Illegal migrants for the most part, died dehydrated by heat (generally near 45 ° C), victims of the funnel effect ("Funnel effect") favored by the wall.

The wall on the US-Mexican border in Fort Hancock Texas

El Paso Times reporter says Control Border Patrol (CPB) agents will be moved to Arizona and California, where the migrant caravan will finally arrive …

What migration policy will follow, by the end of his term, Donald Trump? Human rights groups denounce the conditions under which migrants are accommodated, the increasingly lengthy and complex procedures, to prevent them from obtaining residency status in the United States. And above all, the separation of children from their parents, sent back to Mexico, or in their country of origin.

There are more than 14,000 children in detention today, undocumented, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, because of their illegal arrival. Including several thousand in a tent camp, in Tornillo, Texas, just a few miles from Fort Hancock, in a hostile environment, supervised by the CBP. A figure that has exploded in recent months, multiplied by five in one year, and will fuel the political debate. Probably until the next US presidential election in 2020.

The border between the United States and Mexico, 3100 km long, between Brownsville (Texas) and Tijuana (Baja California).

By Texas Report, Xavier Frère |
                                                Posted on 18/11/2018 at 18:37
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