SAN DIEGO — Perched more than 20 feet in the air atop the border fence between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, a Mexican lawmaker delivers a message to President Donald Trump.
“It’s completely unnecessary — and it’s absurd — to build a wall that costs $15 billion,” Braulio Guerra says in Spanish as a camera rolls. “Look, in these 8 meters, more or less 8, 10 meters, how simple it is to climb.”
The 2-minute video is the latest creative volley in the international drama unfolding over Trump’s signature campaign pledge: to build a wall at the border and make Mexico pay for it. The Mexican government repeatedly has refused. Trump also has issued executive orders that pave the way for a dramatic increase in deportations.
Guerra, a member of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ruling political party, says in the video that he visited the border not just to slam Trump’s wall plan but also to talk with people being sent back to Mexico by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The Mexican government, he says, must provide incentives to companies to hire people who are forced to return, as well as work with US officials “for the protection of our migrants in the United States.”
“It was easy to get up the wall, but there are many dangers for our people,” Guerra wrote in his tweet. “Human rights, principles and dignity are not negotiable.”
The lawmaker’s video, posted Thursday to Twitter, does not show Guerra climbing the barrier. Other photos show him atop the fence, which is closely flanked by a chain link fence, presumably making it easier to climb.
As he peers down at Pacific beaches on either side of the fence, Guerra harks back to what he views as a friendlier period of diplomacy.
“John F. Kennedy in his time spoke of an Alliance for Progress, in which the United States turned around to see Mexico and Latin America and cooperate with its development, with its economy, with its employment, to level the standards of quality of life, to be good neighbors and help each other,” he says.
“This is to be able to improve the relationship and stop the migrant flow, and return to friendly relations that produce jobs, that translate into good economic terms and development for both countries.”
US Customs and Border Protection last week gave notice that it will soon start collecting proposals from companies that want to design and build “prototype wall structures.” A winning bidder is due to be announced in mid-April.
The US-Mexico border is approximately 2,000 miles long, running from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas.
Cost estimates for a wall range from $12 billion to $15 billion — a best guess by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — to a $21.6 billion option now under consideration by the Department of Homeland Security.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said under questioning from lawmakers who oppose walling off the entire border that the department might start by expanding fencing in certain areas, bolstered by technology and personnel.
Trump initially said he wanted to wall off the entire border, but has since said that 1,000 miles may do.
Social media sideshow
Guerra’s video caught the attention of social media users, though perhaps more for his stunt than his message.
“Ridiculous,” a few called him in Spanish.
“What a shame that a ‘representative’ of the Mexican people does these antics,” @josuemb tweeted.