DC Has Been Consistently Out of Touch With the Reality of the Borderlands

Janine Jackson: Only the easily surprised can be surprised that, gifted by the networks with a primetime platform with which to explain what emergency at the US/Mexico border necessitates the extended partial shutdown of the US government, Donald Trump delivered familiar hate-mongering and falsehoods, all in service of his notion of a “border wall,” which, it’s been recently reported, was intended as just a sort of mnemonic device advisers gave Trump as a candidate to remind him to “talk tough” on immigration.

Factchecking is fine as far as it goes, but were media to devote less attention to rhetoric and more to the reality of life as lived along the US southern border, any conversation about walls could at least be grounded in an understanding of the barriers that already exist, with significant impacts on the community and the environment.

Our next guest’s recent work reflects those concerns. Reporter Debbie Weingarten is a fellow for Talk Poverty and for the Center for Community Change. She joins us now by phone from Tucson, Arizona. Welcome to CounterSpin, Debbie Weingarten.

Debbie Weingarten: Thanks for having me.

Whether it’s discussed as a dumb idea or a great idea, an expensive idea, the construction of a wall on the border of the US and Mexico is generally discussed as an idea. In your recent piece for Talk Poverty—I also saw it on Truthout—you illustrate that the conversation really isn’t about building a wall, but building another wall, or more wall. Can you talk about the nature, physical and otherwise, of the already-existing barriers at the US/Mexico border?

Right. The US/Mexico border spans about 2,000 miles, and of that, about 700 miles is covered in some sort of…

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