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Mario Carrillo: Those from the Border Should Be Represented When We’re Talking About Wall

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President Trump once again used fear and lies to make his case for the need of a wall on our country’s southern border during his address to the nation last night. In remarks that reeked of Stephen Miller’s hatred towards immigrants, Trump talked of a “security crisis” on the border, that frankly those who live closest to it aren’t seeing.  

Often missing from Trump’s remarks and from just about any discussion of the issue are voices from people who live along the U.S.-Mexico border who, by and large, oppose the idea of erecting more barriers. As Dara Lind, who made the point “The border panic has very little to do with what people who live on the border actually see” noted:

The political rhetoric is feeding real fear — among people who live far from the border. But people who live closer to it simply don’t identify with that. That’s an important perspective to keep in mind in regards to not only Trump’s claims about the lawlessness of the border, but also how the American people see this as a crisis someone needs to step in to solve.

Fortunately, some media has started to take note of those whose lives would be impacted by Trump’s wall. As CBS News reported, all the members of Congress whose districts include the border oppose the wall:

Nine congressional representatives serve the districts that line the 2,000-mile southern border. They are men, women, freshman politicians and Washington veterans. The Democrats among them span liberal ideologies, while one of them is a Republican.

But they all have one thing in common: each is against President Donald Trump‘s border wall.

Those nine members have a better understanding of what this debate is all about than the combined knowledge of the Trump Administration. Their voices need to be heard.

The New York Times sent a team to the border and produced an article titled, “On the Border, Little Enthusiasm for a Wall: ‘We Have Other Problems That Need Fixing’”:

In anticipation of the president’s speech, The New York Times sent correspondents to the Mexico side of the border and to the four states on the United States side — California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas — and found few who shared the president’s sense of alarm.

Many said there was indeed a humanitarian crisis unfolding, but they blamed the Trump administration for worsening it with a series of policies aimed at deterring Central American migrants from making the journey. Those policies, many of which have been blocked by legal challenges, have failed to stop the flood of migrants. But they have succeeded in escalating tensions, overwhelming volunteer shelters and putting those seeking asylum from violence at renewed risk of health threats and other problems once they arrive in the United States.

As a native El Pasoan, I know first-hand how much is lost when voices from the border are not included in the conversations involving the border, leaving the coverage void of the context and depth an issue like this deserves. The picture that Trump paints of my home is flat out wrong. Rather than just broadcast Trump’s lies, the media owes it to border residents to get the true story.

And now as Trump plans his visit to McAllen this week, it’s imperative that a true representation of the border be presented, and the voices of those most affected by the militarization of the border are included. Trump will go to McAllen and pose for pictures by the border, as he himself has acknowledged that this is simply a photo-op, but he’ll fail to visit the shelters that have taken in so many people, or take time to actually hear the stories of the immigrants who have given everything up for a chance at safety.

This has never been about a wall for Trump. It’s been about scoring political points at the expense of the border community — which, though isn’t in crisis, has been long neglected and needs continued development.