Bridges and Walls: The Border Wall

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When Donald Trump ran for president, building a wall along our nation’s southern border was one of his biggest rallying cries.

But he got a lot of pushback, even from Pope Francis, who said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be located, and not building bridges, is not a Christian.”

There is a whole lot of wall-building going on right now, both physical and metaphorical, at home and overseas. There are at least 70 border walls in place around the world, compared with 15 when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

So DnA is exploring their stories in a series called “Bridges and Walls,” and we start right here in our backyard, at the U.S. Mexican border, at a brief encounter between separated family members at a giant steel gate in Friendship Park in Border Field State Park, near San Diego.

KCRW’s Jenny Hamel meets the Door of Hope program’s founder, Enrique Morones, as well as a brother and sister united, for three minutes, with their mother.

“We do these events because we want to promote the fact that love has no borders. In 1994 the United States started to build a wall between the United States and Mexico that’s led to the death of more than 11,000 people,” Morones said. “I started saying we should be building bridges, not walls.”

Ronald Rael, architecture professor at UC Berkeley, talks about how one side of the border affects the other. In his book “Borderwall as Architecture” he traces the history of the wall and offers some humorous and poignant counter proposals for the wall.

“The wall itself is sort of a bridge that brings people together in really remarkable and interesting ways… that really celebrate a bi-national identity. This is not necessarily two landscapes. It's one landscape that's divided,” he tells DnA.

Francisco Cantú, author of “The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From The Border,” shares his impressions of working as a Border Patrol agent.

He explains that the thrill at tracking footprints, car chases and drug busts gave way to a horror at the death and pain that he witnessed, and a feeling that he had learned a set of skills in order “to catch people.” He also concluded that a physical structure can’t make up for the lack of immigration reform.

“From what I've seen, no matter what obstacle we put at the border, it's going to be subverted. People are going to find a way up, over, under, around it. So I think we need to be looking at different solutions and policy solutions,” he tells DnA.

Bridges and Walls is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.
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And special thanks to NPR’s Story Lab.

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