Wall causes dismay

TIJUANA, Mexico – US President Donald Trump’s wall is far from built but towering concrete and steel prototypes in San Diego are making Mexicans living just south of the border feel his campaign pledge has turned them into “pariahs”.

Eight samples as high as 30 feet (nine metres) were completed last week near the Otay Mesa border crossing, the first tangible sign of Mr Trump’s vow to build a wall from California to Texas for some $21.6 billion.

Opposite San Diego, residents of the Mexican city of Tijuana, where homes, companies and parks abut a corrugated steel fence on the border, dread the prospect of work on a permanent wall.

“People are still going to cross out of necessity even though they view us as pariahs over there,” said student Paola Gomez, 21, standing outside her home as the noise of workers putting up the sections drifted across the border.

“That’s how it looks with things like (the wall): they view us as pariahs. The worst thing is, it’s being built by Latinos themselves.”

Mr Trump pledged frequently during his presidential campaign to build the wall to help tackle illegal immigration and crime in the United States.

He launched his bid in June 2015, accusing Mexicans of sending rapists and drug-runners into the United States, comments that caused widespread outrage south of the border.

Tijuana locals said they heard Spanish-speaking workers helping to build the prototypes, driving home the irony that Latino labour was being used to deter immigration from Latin America.

“They need Mexicans and other undocumented people. They save lots of money with us,” said Manuela Altamirano, 42, who watched from her home as the strips of wall went up. “Trump constantly does things to humiliate the Mexican people … These walls are like monsters he created, like a border Frankenstein.”

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