Lately, many Americans seem to have gone border crazy. It’s not just any border that makes them go bananas but specifically that fictitious line between the U.S. and Mexico, which Donald Trump wants to highlight by putting up a wall or a fence or a barrier. Whatever you call it doesn’t matter. All I know is that there is a southern border mania in the United States.
It is the new Mecca: politicians, national newscasters, newspaper and television reporters, university professors and students, everyone is making special journeys nowadays to “study” the situation at the border. Funny thing is that the people on the other side of that arbitrary line, that is, “los mexicanos y las mexicanas, they don’t appear to care that much about the whole thing.
It’s interesting that while President Trump, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are constantly at each other’s throat and willing to shut down the government over funding of the border wall, when asked about this brouhaha, the Mexican Presidente, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), basically blows off the question and says he’ll respect whatever decision Trump and the Congress make.
AMLO is willing to put up with the wall as long as Trump respects the decisions of his administration, which so far Trump has done. This has been part of a strange honeymoon between the two leaders marked by the American President restraining himself from calling anymore for Mexico to pay for the beautiful wall.
Moreover, the border has been one of AMLO’s least worries since taking office. The success of his so-called Fourth Transformation is not dependent on his almost nonexistent immigration policy. His battles are more of the internal kind. For example, against the endemic corruption in the form of “Huachicoleros” (people who steal gasoline from the pipelines) and PEMEX high officials that he has accused of collusion in this criminal activity but whom he has yet to charge with any crimes.
Perhaps AMLO’s laidback attitude is influencing the citizenry or maybe Mexicans are also not too concerned with el “muro en la frontera” because walls are part of their lives. In urban areas, they’re everywhere: gated communities are not just a sign of class but of security needed in a country where impunity rules; other homes are also surrounded by walls many of them crowned with barbed wire or broken glass. So Trump’s barrier just adds another layer to their walled existence.
What is very concerning is that when I have discussed these matters with friends in Mexico they react in two ways. First, negative stories in social media, true or not, seem to have hardened their views toward Central American immigrants. For example, my friends accuse the caravan people of disrespecting Mexicans who offered them food by rejecting the offer saying they were not pigs. Second, they resent that these Latin American immigrants are not interested in making their home in Mexico but rather want to live in the United States. And since commentators in the media continuously report that emigration from Mexico to the U.S. has diminished to the point where there is a zero net gain in numbers, many of my compatriots probably see Trump’s wall as a barrier that will affect mainly the ungrateful Central Americans immigrants.
This may or may not explain why Mexicans appear so disinterested in jumping into the fray that has gripped so many people in the United States. Still, it does point to the fact that the battle for the border is mainly between Americans, mostly white along with some African Americans and Latinos, oops, Latinx, that are fighting in a wild political “lucha libre” (wrestling match) while Mexicans sit on the sidelines watching somewhat amused.