Donald Trump’s immigration policy dream of erecting a massive wall along the border with a “beautiful” door — all paid for by Mexicans — may soon come true as he accepts his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
This week, immigrant activists began a crowd-funded campaign to build and pay for materials to create a 15,000-foot banner wall that they will construct around the perimeter of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland next week. Parts of the “wall” will be made from 4′ x 4′ panels held by activists to create a physical wall. Other parts will be made of fabric, painted by artists (and kids) to look like a real wall. Still more parts of the wall will be “gorgeous murals” painted on structures around the city, the fundraiser website revealed.
In a video, Tania Unzueta, an undocumented community organizer with the immigrant rights advocacy groups Mijente and the #Not1More Campaign, explained that the wall “protects our community members and defends the people we love and are part of our families.” Unzueta hoped participants would help by “walling off the hatred and xenophobia that’s represented by the Republican candidate to the presidency, Donald Trump.”
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According to organizers, the wall will be paid for, made for, and cared for by “Mexicanos (and Latinx and the conscious people of the U.S,” Latinx being the gender-neutral alternative that some activists use to describe Latinos and Latinas.
“Trump’s vision for our country is as small as his hands,” the website reads. “His campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ is code to take our country back to a past of racial segregation. We’re not afraid of the future of this country. Instead, our wall will celebrate the beautiful potential our people hold.”
Since his campaign began last year, Trump has broadly claimed that immigrants, particularly those from Mexico, could come into the country to commit deviant crimes. He further proposed severely restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries. He has also hit other tone-deaf notes with the immigrant community, like commemorating Cinco de Mayo with a taco bowl and referring to himself as “number one with Hispanics.” Polls in fact show that Latino voters really dislike him.
The activists’ campaign will certainly be an eye-catching feature at the convention, but it could also put them at risk of bodily harm or even deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will be part of the law enforcement agencies present at the RNC, Fusion reported. In the past, aggressively anti-immigrant Trump supporters, emboldened by his rhetoric, have hit, grabbed, spit on, kicked, and hurt immigrant supporters and Latinos across the country.
Activists are looking to raise $15,000 for their fabric wall. But building an actual border wall on the magnitude that Trump has envisioned, rising 35 to 40 feet in the air, would likely cost around $25 billion — an expense Mexico has already said it would not be covering.
Still, the activists’ focus makes clear that building a border wall to keep out undocumented immigrants would hurt American families separated by deportation. Another consequence is that such a wall could instead cut off free trade and raise tariffs that hurt American consumers who rely a lot more on Mexican goods than the other way around. What’s more, the labor force would shrink by 10.3 million workers and reduce GDP upwards of $1 trillion, according to the conservative think tank American Action Forum.