Opinion: A Borderlander Reacts to Trump’s Immigration Speech

Opinion: A Borderlander Reacts to Trump’s Immigration Speech

01.09.19
01.09.19

On Tuesday, President Trump gave his first prime-time address from the Oval Office. Speaking for nearly 10 minutes, Trump explained why he thinks the United States needs a $5.7 billion barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. Click here to watch the address or see a transcript of his remarks.

I watched President Trump’s speech on immigration from the comfort of my home in El Paso, Texas. I was born and raised in El Paso, and for those who may not be familiar with the area, there is already a mile-long fence that separates El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. Growing up in a border town, I couldn’t wait to hear what President Trump had to say in his firstever prime-time Oval Office address on Tuesday night.

The president used words like “illegal alien” and “savagely,” which seemed more like the description of another “Narcos” season. I couldn’t help but look out the window to try to find these people in the “crisis” he kept referring to. But instead, all I saw was the Franklin Mountains resting over the city.

Trump used fear as his tactic to advocate for a useless wall that we don’t need. He said, “All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal immigration,” and that border patrol agents experience “thousands of illegal immigrants” crossing the border on the daily.

But as someone who lives on the border and talks to friends who cross the border every day — and at times several times a day — from Juarez to El Paso for work and school, I know it’s far from dangerous.

Trump is pushing for a wall now only because he was arrogant and proud enough to promise a wall on the campaign trail in 2016. But the fact is that the president has the same issue that many in the United States do: lack of authentic representation of the border. The voices of people who live, work and go to school in these border towns are often missing from the conversation. 

For us borderlanders, the entire conversation about immigration and border security is at times confusing. We see people dealing with border patrol officers all the time. There is a wall already in place that divides two countries. It’s hard to understand what more President Trump wants to see at the border. Democrats and Republicans are arguing back and forth over what is best for us without even thinking to ask for our input.

It seems to me the president has been watching too many action movies, or perhaps he binged-watched Netflix for a bit too long.

A bigger border wall is not synonymous with border security. Border cities like El Paso remain among the safest in the country. The president is right about one thing: we have to come to a decision — for the sake of those coming to this country and for those who live here. 

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