Why it’s now or never for Donald Trump’s wall


One woman brought a sledgehammer to the protest. Her message was about breaking down walls but, still, it was a striking image of the belligerence of political debate in America.

Along both sides of the road outside McAllen International Airport, supporters and opponents of Donald Trump’s wall spent hours shouting at each other.

In Texas, as in Washington, there is no sign of anyone backing down or giving ground in a dispute that means the US government remains partially shut down.

McAllen is the part of the US border which sees most illegal crossings. It was also ground zero of the family separation scandal last summer.



Demonstrators carry signs during a “Rally to End the Shutdown” in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria








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Video:
Shutdown protesters: ‘We want to work!’

It made for the perfect photo opportunity for a president trying to sell his wall as a reality rather than just a campaign promise.

McAllen is a heavily Latino city, separated by the border from its age-old twin town of Reynosa, and the presence of a significant “Latinos for Trump” crowd was notable.

“They have fallen for his lies,” said one anti-Trump protester.

“They like the tax cuts because they are small business owners, I get that, but look at what he has said about us.”



Donald Trump points out the efficacy of wheels and walls








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Video:
Trump gets philosophical about walls

The freshly unpacked Make America Great hats and Trump banners vied for prominence with a rash of homemade signs with the blunt, sometimes profane, message that the president was not welcome.

Those opponents will tell you that crime is low here, a sign that the wall is a waste of money. It would be better spent, they say, on improving security at legal points of entry.

They say that is where the smugglers of drugs, guns and people are doing their business – and the statistics back them up.

In a surreal scene at a border station, the president was surrounded by weapons and bags of cash and narcotics in an effort to prove his point.

He promised those there that he would “win” on getting the wall.

But his decision to cancel his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, 12 days before he is due to depart, suggests he doesn’t expect a speedy solution to the shutdown.

Giving in on the wall now, he clearly believes, would betray those who voted for him and be a sign of weakness.

But with Democrats now in control of House of Representatives in Congress, the chances of advancing his agenda have taken a big knock.

For that reason, it is now or never for him to get funding for his wall.

There are equally determined voices who want to make sure it is never.

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