Who’s afraid of the “big beautiful wall”?
Apparently, the Mexicans are. Judging from the comments and tweets of Mexican officials, many people south of the border are downright terrified of the dreaded muro.
That fear is not assuaged by President Trump’s campaign promise that any new border wall will have a “big beautiful door” so that people can enter the right way.
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Silly gringo. Who needs a door, when smugglers have access to big beautiful tunnels?
Of course, that’s an E-ticket ride. No one is happier about the era of Trump than immigrant smugglers, who will now increase their prices. Nice job, Senor Trump. You’ve enriched and empowered the coyote cartels with your immigration crackdown.
Still, though this may come as news to the president, not every Mexican is a criminal.
And so, for many our neighbors, a $15 billion concrete monstrosity on their northern border is not welcomed. In fact, it is scarier than the chupacabra, the fabled monster that Mexican villagers believe kills goats and drinks their blood.
Today, that creature seems downright cuddly compared to Trump who, the Mexicans fear, will suck the life out of their country.
Now that he has signed an executive order calling for the construction of a wall, Trump is the most hated U.S. president south of the border since James K. Polk got drunk on the elixir of Manifest Destiny and invaded Mexico in 1846.
The president might further antagonize our neighbor by sending it an unwanted gift: thousands of busloads of its own people, throwaways whom Mexico thought it had seen the last of.
But the Louis Vuitton-clad elites who run Mexico’s government sector and business community couldn’t care less about what might happen to Mexican workers in the United States.
By the way, despite the stupidity we heard from Trump during the campaign, these immigrants – with their work ethic and undying optimism – are indeed the very best Mexico had to offer. Mexico got stuck with the complainers and the entitled who think the world owes them a living. These are the same people who are now wringing their hands over the idea of a border wall.
They include former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who promised radical reforms as a candidate but didn’t deliver them once he got into office. He has declared that he won’t pay a centavo for “that (bleeping) wall,” which he has labeled a “racist monument.”
This is bold talk given that Mexico hasn’t elected a dark-skinned president since Benito Juarez stepped down in 1872.
There are three reasons why Mexicans don’t want a wall.
One, economics. The status quo is a sweet deal for Mexico, which gets to outsource an estimated 6 million to 8 million expatriates for whom the Mexican labor force wouldn’t have room anyway. The castaways send home an estimated $25 billion a year, which helps prop up the Mexican economy. A wall could be bad for business.
Two, Mexican pride. The wall is seen as an affront, a man-made barrier designed to protect Americans from their Mexican neighbors who have cooties. The Mexican elites take offense at the idea that Americans might want to keep their distance from them. There is nothing a snob hates more than a bigger snob.
And three, the fact that Trump doubled down on his insult by insisting that Mexico pay for the wall it despises. He now seems determined to make that happen by taxing remittances, withholding the $320 million in annual aid that the United States gives to Mexico, or imposing a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports.
Because of this, and because Enrique Pena Nieto can’t afford his 12 percent approval rating to drop any further by being manhandled by Trump, the Mexican president recently backed out of a White House meeting.
The Mexicans need to chill. Like the chupacabra, the wall is mostly fiction. Any structure will likely resemble a fence. It won’t be along the entire 2,000-mile border, about a third of which already has some kind of barrier – thanks to Democrats and Republicans alike – and much of the rest of which covers rugged terrain that is nearly impenetrable. Whatever Trump builds, the industrious will go over, around or under. Life goes on.
In fact, this whole discussion about the wall is mostly for show. It’s a distraction intended to rile up the base and keep critics off-balance. And that’s something we’re probably going to be saying a lot over the next four years.
Ruben Navarrette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.