Phoenix, Arizona. During campaign 2016, Donald Trump promised American voters more peace with Russia, US withdrawl from the UN, real health care and a great big wall to protect Americans from a invasion of illegal immigrants on their southern border. But the Trump dream is running afoul of stiff oposition from friend and foe alike as more of his plans fade into faded dreams.
For decades and since he can remember, Richard Saunders has seen families cross the fence on his Native American reservation in southern Arizona, where the US-Mexican border splits his tribe’s land in two, to seek work, see a doctor or go to school.
“He’d stand out there and converse with them, take a shot of tequila. Grandma would make them some burritos, and they’d be on their way,” recalled Saunders, a senior figure in the tribal administration, heading its public safety department.
These days, Saunders and other tribal members fear Donald Trump’s plan to sever their land with a border wall will be no different than a knife slicing through their culture and their community.
It has been the same for over 100 years, the Tohono O’odham tribe – like other Native Americans – have seen their ancestral lands stolen as a result of hundreds of broken land deals with the US government in its westward expansion in the 1800s.
Of the 2,200-mile (3,500-km) border wall that Trump says will stop drugs, crime and rapists from Mexico, 62 miles (100 km) would run through Tohono O’odham land, putting most of the reservation, which is slightly larger than Lebanon, in the United States and a smaller piece in Mexico’s Sonora state.
Many of the local native Americans are encouraged by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who recently said it was “unlikely that we will build a wall or physical barrier from sea to shining sea.” Another suggestion by Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that electronic monitors may be used in some sections has also helped to allay concerns.
The border people of the US and Mexico are finding out that like Trump’s salesmanship of himself, real results from promises made by Trump are harder to find completed than given. A comforting thought in this part of the world, where many have no desire to see a Berlin Wall in their backyard.