Donald Trump's intention to build a wall along the southern border of the United States is well known, and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has even released his plan on how the US would be able to make Mexico pay for it.
One thing that won't change whether Trump builds a wall or not, is the intense violence and a lack of job opportunities that act as catalysts to drive scores of immigrants to the US border. What has changed, however, is the time frame by which immigrants plan to take their chance. As a Trump presidency becomes more and more of a possibility, immigrants believe that if there ever was a time to try and get across the border to the United States, that time is now - before Trump has a chance to act on his words.
From the Washington Post
Although the overall number of migrants apprehended along the border this year has not yet reached the proportions of the 2014 flood of Central Americans, some believe that could happen, with a summer surge before the presidential election in November.
“We’re definitely on track to catch up to it, which is not a good thing,” said Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent and union representative here. “The political climate has a lot to do with it.”
The upcoming presidential election marks a fork in the road for U.S. immigration policy: A Democratic victory could lead to more unauthorized immigrants getting permits to work and live in the United States. Trump has vowed to build the giant border wall, deport millions of undocumented immigrants and block remittances. Intense violence and a lack of job opportunities are the driving forces behind the Central American migration, and critics say those problems will continue to push people northward regardless of whether there is a bigger wall. For some of the migrants, sooner seems more appealing than later.
Trump “says he wants to build a wall. They want to get over before he builds it,” said Mario Saucedo Mendoza, who works at the Senda de Vida migrant shelter in Reynosa, the Mexican city across the border from McAllen. “He’s said these things, and people are trying to get in front of him, they are trying to cross now.”
As rumors of Obama providing amnesty to illegal immigrants hit in 2014, the number of immigrants detained trying to cross the border jumped to 347,085, led by the "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, whose immigration hit a high water mark in 2014. While apprehensions from US authorities dipped in 2015, when coupled with detentions by Mexican authorities the total was still 332,430. So far in 2016, the numbers are rising again, and shelters that are used as overflow capacity when detainee centers are full are seeing tremendous amounts of immigrants.
This spring, the numbers appear to be rising again. The figures on Central Americans detained in Mexico are above 2014 levels. The Sacred Heart Catholic Church shelter in McAllen, which opened in June 2014 amid the surge and has since taken in more than 35,000 people, has seen days this month with more than 200 migrant arrivals, something that has never previously happened. Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said that the Border Patrol sends migrants when it has run out of space in centers where the detainees are held before proceeding to immigration court.
“This is overflow,” she said, as Central American children played with donated toys and their parents chose from piles of secondhand clothes, arranged by gender and size. “This year, specifically this month and this couple of weeks, our numbers have increased a lot.
“The families are arriving because it’s impossible to live in their home countries,” she added. “They know their child runs a high risk of being killed, of being kidnapped, of being taken away, and they’ve seen this happen to other people, so they figure out: We have to go.”
Of course, to escape imminent danger, families aren't really concerned if there is the threat of a wall or not, they're going to try and get to a place where they are safe, and that means the United States. Also, not all Trump supporters agree with the idea of a wall, such as former mayor of Rio Grande City and current Republican candidate for congress Ruben Villarreal, who points out that all the talk is just causing an influx of new immigrants.
Yenis Constancia Viuda de Cruz, a 26-year-old mother of three whose husband was slain by Salvadoran gang members in 2010, decided to flee out of fear that gangs were trying to recruit her eldest son, 9-year-old Pablo José. With a plan to reunite with her mother, who lives in Silver Spring, Md., Viuda de Cruz paid $2,800 in fees to smugglers and bribes to Mexican officials to reach the United States, she said. Like other migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol, she was made to wear a black ankle bracelet with a blinking light, so authorities could track her movements before an immigration court date in Maryland, during which she would plead for asylum.
“My children were in danger,” she said before leaving on a bus for Maryland. “People say, ‘Why don’t you go to another country?’ There isn’t another country where you can provide something better for your children, where you won’t get harmed. The only one is the United States.”
Ruben Villarreal, a Republican candidate for Congress, former mayor of Rio Grande City and Trump supporter, called the wall idea a “12th-century technical solution to a 21st-century problem.”
“There’s no such thing as a fence that’s impenetrable,” he said. And all the talk of it is “causing a draw” of people.
The migrant attitude is “hurry, hurry, hurry, get there,” he said. The campaign trail talk “is going to encourage people from here to November.”
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Of course the social and economic issues motivating immigrants to try and make it into the United States certainly won't be solved by a wall, but right now Trump is on a roll and has struck a chord with many American's who have been left behind by years of central planner failures and now need to scapegoat immigrants as a reason the economy is a disaster. We expect the rhetoric to continue, and if Trump does get into office he probably will build the Wall as he said he was going to do - and as usual, nothing will be actually solved.