California rancher waves to US Customs & Border Protection agent patrolling the US/Mexico border wall. ©Todd Bigelow


I’ve spent over twenty years photographing immigration with particular attention paid to the border region. I’ve seen the wall from Texas to San Diego, from Tijuana to Agua Prieta and in between. So I thought I’d share some of those images with you here as a reminder that the “big, beautiful wall” that Trump covets as a gift for his ethnocentric supporters is already built. Where it is not built, the natural environment serves the purpose as a barrier. America doesn’t need more walls any more than it needs a President who believes that some Neo-Nazis carrying torches and chanting Nazi slogans are “nice people.”


A father and son peer through the border fence into the United States from Tijuana, Mexico. ©Todd Bigelow


Let’s be real here for a minute. Trump was elected by using the age-old Republican tactics of fear mongering and scapegoating of immigrants. Appealing to his nearly 100% white, minimally educated, mostly rural base of supporters, Trump bellowed about the “rapists” and “drug dealers” that Mexico sends to the US. In response, his supporters would scream “BUILD THE WALL” in unison. Facts have never mattered to Trump or his supporters and likely never will. Research from leading, non-partisan think tanks has long shown that immigrants commit fewer crimes and receive far fewer benefits than they provide to society. But, stating these fact has no appeal to his base, so Trump sold the truth to his flock as “fake news.” Forget the fact that the US/Mexico border wall is already built and heavily fortified in California, Arizona and Texas with a massive increase in funding initiated during the Clinton administration. 


With the border wall already fortified by the mid 1990s, undocumented immigrants looked for ways around the fence, including running up Interstate 5 in San Diego. ©Todd Bigelow


Trump didn’t convince his supporters as much as he fed them what they wanted to hear, so he told them that the country needed a BIG border wall and that Mexico would pay for it. He promised time and again that Mexico would cave in to the great negotiator and pay to build the wall. Of course, his base bought this line without any critical analysis and ultimately put him in office expecting it to happen. Unsurprisingly, Mexico told Trump immediately and repeatedly that they would never pay for the wall, but Trump kept up the charade. “Believe me,” he’d implore his flock, “they’ll pay!”


A Customs & Border Enforcement agent scans the Rio Grande River near Eagle Pass, Texas. ©Todd Bigelow


Here we are today, nearly eight months into Trump’s presidency and, low and behold, the wall is at center stage as the negotiating chip for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The problem for Trump is that he can’t get funding for his beloved border wall despite the fact that Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House.


Trump wants to spend taxpayer money on more border security. Already, flood lights illuminate the Tijuana River levy just a few yards from the wall where migrants used to gather before attempting entry. ©Todd Bigelow


Think about that. His party controls everything and he still can’t get funding for his “big, beautiful wall.” Wait, what about Mexico paying for it, you ask? Didn’t Trump get elected after two years of telling America of his unrivaled ability to get things done? Sure, but Mexico is still telling him to F*#k Off, albeit in more diplomatic terms. So Trump is trying to save face by begging Congress (meaning, of course, American taxpayers) for the money to build an unneeded wall. Now, even Congress is saying F#*k Off, albeit in diplomatic terms.


Undocumented migrants are chased back across the border wall and toward Mexico by approaching agents. ©Todd Bigelow


Which brings us to where we are today. After rescinding DACA only a week ago and thereby threatening 800,000 childhood arrivals with deportation, Trump is trying to get wall money from taxpayers by offering to save DACA if Congress provides the money for his wall.


Tying border wall funding to DACA is Trump’s last gasp effort to deliver on his number one campaign promise. Without Democratic support for the wall, of which there is none, the “great negotiator” will fail again. And rightfully so.

Kids play between the two worlds by squeezing through the fence and running onto the beach. ©Todd Bigelow


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All images © Todd Bigelow. Photographs registered with the United States Copyright Office and available for licensing. Please direct any inquiries to Legal[at]ToddBigelowPhotography[dot]com.



Todd Bigelow Photography

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