How Walls Ended Up Along the U.S.-Mexico Border | NYT News

How Walls Ended Up Along the U.S.-Mexico Border | NYT News

This is what part of
the U.S. and Mexico border looked like in 1898, just an
open strip of land with train tracks going across. Here’s what that same stretch
looked like 110 years later, in 2008. The open land is
split by a fence. A border gate replaces
the train tracks. So how did we get
here — from open desert to a patchwork of highly
politicized border barriers? To understand, we’re
going to focus mostly on a single location,
in Nogales, the spot where this
stone monument marks the border line. What happens here tells
the story of the border’s transformation, the
how and the why. We’ll begin in 1848. The United States has
just defeated Mexico in a war over expansion. Mexico is forced to sign away
more than half its land and sell a bit more later on. This is how the U.S.
got the land which includes today’s border, but
there’s no fences or barriers yet. No. First the border just gets
marked, in many places with nothing more
than a pile of stones. These stones are at
the spot I mentioned that we’re going to focus on,
outside a saloon in Nogales. The saloon is on the U.S. side. There’s essentially free
movement back and forth. But these rocks hardly
mark the border accurately. The border stays like that
for 43 years until 1891. That’s when the U.S.
and Mexico set out to define the border
with better accuracy. Stone monuments go up
at regular intervals to clearly mark it. If we go back to the saloon,
Monument 122 stands where the pile
of rocks once was. The monument will remain, but
the saloon will be torn down. Why? In 1897, the president
orders that several buildings be demolished in order to
clear a 60-foot-wide path along the border. Mexico has already done this. The path is cleared to make
smuggling easier to spot. Not drug smuggling — this is
smuggling of everyday goods to avoid import
and export taxes. The new tract of
open land also emphasizes the
growing separation between Mexico and the U.S. Still, there’s no border
fence in Nogales, not yet. But in rural areas, there’s
a problem only a border fence can solve: ticks. In the early 1900s,
ticks are causing disease among cows in rural areas. Those cows are crossing back
and forth over the border. So the first-ever
border fence is actually built to keep cows
from spreading disease. But what about the
first fence meant to control human movement? There are three big
reasons the U.S. invests in more security at
the southern border, culminating in the
first permanent fence. Number 1, racist attitudes
towards Chinese people had led to law banning
their immigration to the U.S. The law was enforced
mainly at water ports, but less so on the
Mexican border. So going through Mexico
became an easier way Chinese people could avoid the
ban and still enter the U.S. But the large number
of people showing up along the
southern border eventually drew stricter security. Then in 1910, a revolution
breaks out in Mexico. That leads to reason Number 2
for a security buildup. The U.S. sends troops
to the border to stop the fighting
from spilling over. Here’s that monument
I showed you earlier, where the saloon once
was, this time in 1913. Then — World War I —
reason Number 3 for the security buildup. U.S. troops stay on the border. There’s paranoia in America
that German spies might cross over from the Mexican side. All this violence and intrigue
creates a tense atmosphere on the border. Small gunbattles erupt
between jittery American and Mexican forces. Each side blames the other. So here’s where the
first permanent border fence to manage
human crossings comes to be, in 1918. It’s made of wire — very basic. You could easily climb over
the fence if you wanted to. But its purpose isn’t to
wall off the two countries. The fence is a way to
diffuse the tension and control the flow of
growing border traffic. Then, Prohibition happens. Alcohol is legal in Mexico. So yeah, a lot of American
visitors go there. The U.S. monitors
crossings to enforce the regulation of
American morality, as one researcher puts it. Also, population
along the border is growing, so we see the
border fence get enhancements in the late 1920s. It’s got barbed wire at the top. Lampposts are installed. New stone pillars
form crossing gates. Prohibition gives way to
the Depression and then World War II. Here’s where the U.S. starts
to use barriers to really keep people out. A program is bringing
Mexican workers into the U.S. to beef up the
wartime labor force. “The term most commonly
used is Braceros.” But at the same time,
other Mexicans without authorization
to enter the U.S. sneak across the border
anyway, looking for jobs. This photo shows
a U.S. border agent demonstrating how
easy people can get through a rural border fence. So all of this leads to more
fences and more border patrols. The racial slur in
this newsreel title shows the prejudice
towards Mexican workers during this time. The U.S. places
more restrictions on Mexican immigration
in the following decades. That begins a cycle that
continues to this day. Less ways to
legally enter the U.S. means more people crossing
the border illegally, which leads to
more deportations. To build stronger
border barriers, the U.S. uses surplus
from the Vietnam War. See right here: It’s a helicopter landing mat. Mats like these line
the border in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the U.S. is
increasing roundups of undocumented immigrants. “There is too much of it,
and we must do much more to stop it.” Then we come to Sept. 11. That brings strong
bipartisan support for more border security. “This bill will make our
borders more secure.” And the length of the border
wall expands to five times what it was, even though the
number of illegal crossings are going down. “We have more of everything — ICE, Border Patrol,
surveillance, you name it.” Border security remains
a huge rallying cry. “We’ve got to have a wall. If we don’t have a wall,
it’s never going to end.” “A wall is an immorality. It’s not who we
are as a nation.” And so the debate continues. That’s how we got here. Barriers have existed along
the border for a long time, but their purpose has
been ever-changing. So five minutes
into the video, you saw how Vietnam-era
landing mats were used to help construct
the border fence. But there’s another surprising
material that was also used: During World War II,
the U.S. forcibly confined people of Japanese
ancestry to internment camps. Those camps had fences,
and some of those fences were reused later on to
build the Mexican border fence. This time not
to keep people in, but to keep people out.

61 thoughts to “How Walls Ended Up Along the U.S.-Mexico Border | NYT News”

  1. All I saw is political issue not a real one. America needs to have a banner saying " if you want to be in America I will have to control you but you will have to wait for your ID number, you're no longer free, you're just a number now". -USA

  2. Wet back comes from how soaked in sweat the workers shirts were, especially in the back, after a day in the fields under the intense sun. People in towns were particularly disgusted when workers enter their establishments to get groceries or for a beer, in my opinion.
    Mexican workers have been requested by US plantation owners long before this video shows. Prejudice towards Mexican workers exists since long before WW2 and Bracero programs. It was particularly intense during the Great Depression, when Hoover administration expelled US citizens with racial features of Mexican descent for considered them illegals.
    To say the border wall has been there "A long time" is a very narrow point of view.

  3. Maybe Mexican government should expedite visas to all Americans and deporting them as well, you are sending too many guns

  4. Oops i got thrue, 25% of total immigrant's are Mexican & VIP in the OOOOOOOPPPPPPSSSSIIIIEEEE DAISY party. In rebar, concrete, & brick's we believe.

  5. It’s took more than 100 years from stones marked to a little bit of fence then another 100 years to concrete wall with wire and will take another 200 years to build half of the wall .
    Total will take 600 years to finally complete a wall that is protected more than 2000 miles . .. by the time the world will end before its built .

  6. Video left out the part about America paying 15 million for the land they supposedly won in the war.So Mexico had a price and cant be mad for what they sold.

  7. All this is just to spread Hate, it wasn’t illegal to Cross over from here to there or there to here till the 1930’s if I’m not mistaken, if you notice we are living in a worse more hateful and sick world than we lived in before, and about spreading disease, didn’t we already spread swine flu to Mexico? It originated in California and the USA was originally trying to blame Mexico but then proof came out that it originated in California, I just don’t understand why people can’t get along, we all live in the same world, we all want peace, we all want love, we all want to live a long happy life, and nobody wants to die

  8. The heart-breaking evidence (vids, photos. eye witness accounts) of the handiwork of Stephen Miller, the bumbling Joseph Goebbels of senior policy advisors to trump, who is the instigator of the immigration policy and travesty aftermath on the south border is as damning as it gets. Undoubtedly he callously views the ‘viral’ publicity afforded by this tragedy as going a long way to achieving his stated policy objective to discourage immigration (legal and illegal) by being “tough” on migrants. Indeed his extreme bombastic rhetoric on immigration matters in general would suggest that he is probably quite pleased and that it’s not only working but justified. It’s a deeply shameful development but not surprising for this trump administration.

  9. 6:10 "Even though the number of illegal crossings are going down."

    That's a load of croc. We have people coming up through the border from Africa, Cuba, and India for example.

    Border apprehensions have averaged 500,000 in the past five years, with reports saying we will hit 1 million apprehensions this fiscal year alone. How many people aren't getting caught?

  10. nancy and the democrats should stop lying to their base they agree with stopping illegal aliens bill did it and obama did it its bad for the economy

  11. Ellis Island type facility needed at border. All border states need a facility to ID and Vet people properly so kids are not trafficed. Feel bad for kids.

  12. Random question here: Is there such thing as illegall Canadian immigrants? And if so why is there not any fuss over that. This just came to me after reflecting on a conversation I had with some americans who would've sworn it wasn't a prejudice issue when discussing why they wanted tighter border control.

  13. Because it's southern border country is a cartel state. That smuggles billions of dollars worth of drugs and children intended for prostitution a year. The NYTimes has written many articles about it.

  14. Borderforce USA – an amazing series on National Geographic that shows what it is really like on the southwest border.

  15. Good reporting. But to make correction, Mexican/Spanish people never left the land that was invaded before and after 1848-1846. Emphasize this part of the history.

  16. completely skipped all the civil wars the US funded in Central America, which devastated millions of people and killed thousands leaving permanent damage to the economies and political structure

  17. Washington Post is propaganda for leftists. This video was mostly fine, but you guys still think that the wall is to keep Mexicans out. That’s not true, it’s to keep ILLEGAL people (It doesn’t matter your race) out of the country.

  18. This is why I get so confused at these immigrants that are from Europe considered Mexicans immigrants if they're natives but people are just too stupid to understand this remember Natives and Mexicans are practically the same

  19. Liberal New York Times Trump haters everything racist, Americans were not jittery they were protecting this great country.

  20. What hundred and ten years later.. even 50-60 years later, things changed.. many of those fences and walls were build in the mid 20th century.

  21. It’s because corrupt US politicians had s lot to gain from allowing cheap illegal labor into the country. If some murderers came in too, it was a small price to pay to keep big business happy. Also taxpayers weren’t supporting and educating illegals in those days. Times have changed.

    Sept. 13, 2019 USCIS to Welcome More Than 34,000 New Citizens in Celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day USCIS announced today that it will celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by welcoming nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens during 316 naturalization ceremonies across the nation between Sept. 13 and 23

  23. Because you are such idiots and criticize trump for the border wall and all that chaos if the border wall and all that chaos did it in the bush and obama administrations and nobody says anything about them.

  24. We need to all stand up been seen heard Mexicans we started with ceasar Chavez I'm only speaking truth we demand equal rights stop putting Mexicans down verbally respect ….trust….. Family .. And our God 🙏

  25. Every Nation must rely on God our creator for everything a nation and her people desire, need and require . Every single Nation under the Sun must be responsible for her own nation requirements . Whatever the necessaries for a nations people, these needs are its own government obligations. They are not the job, nor task of another’s country.

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