I’ll admit I’m like most Americans – I had heard about a border wall, but didn’t pay much attention. “If they think it’s necessary, I guess it’s OK,” I thought. Or maybe I didn’t think anything at all.
When we arrived into El Paso, we started hearing about the wall.
“You’ll be pedaling right beside the wall,” people told us. “It’s the most ridiculous thing ever.”
Still I didn’t think much about it. Yes – it was an enormous, uglier-than-sin monstrosity, but if they felt it was necessary… well, OK.
Forty miles later I sat outside a post office in Fort Hancock waiting for the boys.
“Did you see our wall?” a farmer asked as he pointed off into the distance at the wall about a mile or so away. “God, that thing is ugly. It’s the most useless, ridiculous thing the government has ever thought up.”
“I’ve lived here on the border all my life and we’ve never had a problem,” the farmer’s friend added. “But what I don’t understand is that it’s only little bits and pieces of a wall. If someone wants to get around, they only have to walk a kilometer or so to get to the end of that segment. What’s the point of it?”
Huh? When I heard about the wall, I somehow figured the plan was to build a solid wall along the border. Now these farmers were saying it would just be a small segment here and another one there. What’s the point indeed?
And then we got to Alpine.
“This border wall is stupid,” Dee told me. “For a lot of ranchers, the river is the only source of water their animals have – and now they won’t be able to reach the river. And another problem is that wildlife don’t respect the border and cross freely – with the wall they won’t be able to.
I had officially morphed from an ignorant American who had never even thought about the border wall to one who was getting more and more curious by the day. What was the point? What was the plan?
And finally, we got to McAllen and saw the ridiculousness taken to new heights. It just so happens that a very wealthy neighborhood lies right on the border, and the last thing those people want is a great big ugly cement wall in their backyard.
So the engineers came up with a brilliant plan – they’ll build the wall into the levee. On the Mexican side, the wall is the typical, ugly, 20-foot-high concrete monstrosity. But on the American side, it’s just a nice, little, quaint, 4-foot-high retaining wall.
You see – the engineers worked their magic and buried the American side with tons and tons of dirt, creating a gradual climb up to the top.
After seeing the wall for so many miles and hearing nothing but complaints about it, I’m now more curious than ever. And so I’m asking you – dear reader – to fill me in here. Hopefully you know a bit more than I do about what they are trying to accomplish with the border wall.
So – without further ado, I present to you my list of questions. If you can help me understand this thing a bit, I will be at your service til my dying day (or maybe I should just say I’ll be eternally grateful)
What is the purpose? (I would think the purpose would be to keep illegals out, but refer to my next question before answering that.)
Why just short segments? (It doesn’t take much brain power to figure out you can simply go one kilometer to the end)
What about the wild animals? How are they going to get across?
What about the farmers? Where will their water come from?
Why is the USA spending billions of dollars on a gawd-ugly cement monument?
As I think about this wall, I’m reminded of my conversation with a border agent on our last trip.
“I always tell people to be careful what they wish for,” he told me. “It’s only a matter of time before we stop the flow of illegals – but I wonder if that’s really what people want. When they walk into a supermarket and pay $15 for a small basket of strawberries, they’ll wonder if it was really such a grand idea to stop people from crossing the border. Is that really what they want?”