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To understand Trump’s speech, look at the US-Mexico border as it exists today

By Johnny Simon
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Donald Trump delivered a statement last night (Jan. 8) from the Oval Office laying out his argument for funding a wall along the US’s southern border with Mexico. Funding for a wall has been the sticking point in federal budget negotiations and has led to the government being shut down for the past few weeks.

Rhetoric from the Trump administration around “border issues” has been growing more more dire and fearsome in recent weeks, despite a lack of factual basis for the supposed concerns.  While it is true some people entering the country illegally climb over current fencing, sometimes in full view of photojournalists, the amount of crossings has been on the decline for years (paywall). That’s why Trump opponents have become louder and louder in pointing out the sheer ludicrousness of the wall. Even Trump’s visions for his proposed wall have changed over time. From the monolithic concrete vision he commissioned prototypes for,  just last week the phrasing had shifted to, in his words, “a see-through wall made out of steel.” Those are often called “fences”—which already exist across much of America’s southern border.

The network of border barriers in its current incarnation covers over 650 miles of the US, stretching in portions through desert, towns, and ending in the sea.

Reuters/Edgard Garrido
A house stands next to a section of the border fence separating Mexico and the US, in Tijuana, Mexico in 2017.
AP Photo/Russell Contreras
A US Border Patrol agent drives near the US-Mexico border fence in Sunland Park, New Mexico in 2016.
AP Photo/Christian Torres
Sunland Park, New Mexico, is seen over the US border fence as a protestor finishes painting the Spanish slogan “Neither delinquents nor illegals, we are international workers” on the Anapra, Mexico side of the fence in 2016.
AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd
A farm located adjacent to the fence at the US-Mexico border in the Juarez valley, Mexico in 2017.
AP Photo/Brian Skoloff
An aerial photo of the border fence along the edge of Nogales, Arizona.
AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd
The border fence that divides Mexico and the US is seen in Tecate, Mexico in 2018.
Reuters/Mike Blake
US Border Patrol supervisor Robert Stine looks out over the border wall from the top of a hill near Jacumba, California in 2016.
AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza
Migrants looks for a place to jump the border fence to get into the US side to San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico in December of 2018.
AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza
Tijuana, Mexico, left, and San Diego, California, right, are seen separated by the US border fence.
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
US Border Patrol vehicles are parked along a secondary fence as they respond to a group of Central American migrants crossing the border wall illegally, seen from across the wall in Tijuana, Mexico in 2018.
Reuters/Mike Blake
US border patrol agents on horseback patrol along the US Mexico border fence near San Diego, California in 2016.
Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez
A section of the US-Mexico border wall at Sunland Park, taken from the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, in 2016.
Reuters/Mike Blake
Three men jump the fence from Mexico and give themselves up to US border patrol agents in Calexico, California in 2017.
AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza
The border fence that extends onto the beach between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico is reflected on a puddle of sea water as seen from Mexico on Jan. 3, 2019.
AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza
A bird stands on top of the border fence between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico on Jan 3, 2019.

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