What does the Border think of Trump?

“We can’t get industry to relocate to South Texas because there’s not enough water,” Hinojosa told HuffPost. “We can’t get industry to relocate to South Texas because there’s not an interstate highway. And we’re wasting our money building a freaking wall that nobody needs or wants?” -- Roque Planas, Huffington Post, Jan. 25, 2017
“Donald Trump is one thing, but it’s another when your own president is screwing the country,” said Jorge de la Cruz, a mechanic. -- David Agren, The Guardian, 1-23-17

Huffington Post
Border Residents Wish Money For Trump’s Wall Would Pay For Something Useful Instead
Schools, roads or hospitals, for example.
Roque Planas



María Cordero passes a border fence twice to get to her home in La Posada, one mile north of the Rio Grande, which divides Mexico from the United States. Customs and Border Protection erected the steel beam barrier that cuts through her neighborhood nine years ago, slashing through private property and an ecological reserve.
The Texas resident didn’t like it then, and she’s not happy that President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday mandating the construction of “a physical wall on the Southern border.”
“The wall is completely illogical,” Cordero, a Mexican-born community organizer for the ACLU, told The Huffington Post. “We need those billions of dollars for schools and clinics.”
Trump’s order to greenlight more border barrier, at a projected cost of $16 million per mile, delivers on a central campaign promise in a race that centered on the subject of illegal immigration.
But those who live on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, where in many places the wall has been a reality for years, often view it as an impractical and expensive gesture of hostility toward Mexico.
Michael Seifert, a three-decade resident of the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, lives a mile from the border in the city of Brownsville. Putting up more walls doesn’t do much to restrict unauthorized immigration these days because many arrivals now are seeking asylum and turn themselves in at legal ports of entry. And he says he’s seen students scale the fence at Brownsville in eight seconds, just to see if they could.  
But while Seifert doesn’t see any practical benefits to the wall, he sees costs in the undermining of our relationship with Mexico.
“It’s certainly a symbol of where [Trump] wants to take the country,” Seifert told HuffPost. “But those of us who live on the border know it’s bad for business, it’s bad for relationships. I’ve never met a single official who says it works.”
Trump defended his order for the border wall at a speech before immigration agents Wednesday, saying that it would improve the U.S. relationship with Mexico by stemming unauthorized immigration.
But Jorge Bustamante, a professor emeritus at Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, said it would have the opposite effect.
“It’s not necessary,” said Bustamante, who who specializes in immigration and human rights. “It’s an ideological issue…. The symbolic effect is to present Mexico as if the country were an enemy.”
Gilberto Hinojosa, the Texas state chairman for the Democratic Party, lives seven miles from a bridge connecting Mexico to the United States in the Rio Grande Valley. He says he sees a Border Patrol vehicle or bike pass by roughly every 15 minutes. On top of that, state agents from the Department of Public Safety are parked along the road to help patrol the border as part of a multimillion-dollar effort signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) last year to crack down on illegal immigration. “There’s no question that we have reached our maximum capacity in enforcement down here,” Hinojosa told HuffPost.
Like many other border area residents, he’d prefer to see the money poured into schools, highways and hospitals.
“We can’t get industry to relocate to South Texas because there’s not enough water,” Hinojosa told HuffPost. “We can’t get industry to relocate to South Texas because there’s not an interstate highway. And we’re wasting our money building a freaking wall that nobody needs or wants?”
Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican who represents borderlands that stretch from San Antonio to El Paso, also decried the executive order as wasteful and misguided. Border fencing might be effective in highly populated areas, he said, but rough terrain or protected natural areas present challenges best addressed with a more flexible approach that makes better use of technology.
“Big Bend National Park and many areas in my district are perfect examples of where a wall is unnecessary and would negatively impact the environment, private property rights and the economy,” Hurd said in a statement.
The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce took a more diplomatic view. Communications Director Pablo Aguirre said the chamber does not take a position on the issue but hoped that when the fencing gets contracted, local companies will benefit.
“We already do have some sort of wall here,” Aguirre said. “If this is something that’s going to happen, we want to see that they get contractors and let them bid on the project and it stays local.”
“We can’t get industry to relocate to South Texas because there’s not enough water,” Hinojosa told HuffPost. “We can’t get industry to relocate to South Texas because there’s not an interstate highway. And we’re wasting our money building a freaking wall that nobody needs or wants?” -- Roque Planas, Huffington Post, Jan. 25, 2017
“Donald Trump is one thing, but it’s another when your own president is screwing the country,” said Jorge de la Cruz, a mechanic. -- David Agren, The Guardian, 1-23-17
The Guardian
'Just the beginning': Trump may disrupt 20-year boom for Mexico auto industry
Future suddenly uncertain for man Mexican auto workers after week in which sector was thrown into disarray and thousands of jobs were threatened
David Agren in Villa de Reyes
Marisol Galarza floundered after finishing high school, but she eventually found her way to a job on an assembly line at a General Motors plant in the central Mexican state of San Luís Potosí.
Determined to get ahead, she started studying industrial engineering on Saturdays through a company-sponsored program and currently works in that department.
“I like what I do and I like what I’m studying and what I’m seeing there,” said Galarza, 24. “God willing, I’ll finish my studies this year.”
She had thought her future was secure here, in a state where more than 50,000 jobs depend on the car industry.
But that future suddenly seems much less certain after a tumultuous week in which Mexico’s automobile sector was thrown into disarray – and thousands of manufacturing jobs were threatened – by the US president-elect.
In a string of tweets, Donald Trump chided car companies for operating in Mexico, apparently seeking to bully them into shifting production to the US.
On Tuesday, Trump threatened to slap a “big border tax” on General Motors for importing compact cars to the US market from Mexico.
Hours later, Ford announced it had cancelled plans to build a $1.6bn plant in Villa de Reyes, saying that instead it would expand a facility in Michigan.
Trump greeted the move as “just the beginning”. Two days later, he turned his sights on Toyota, again threatening punitive taxes if the Japanese company continued with plans to open a new plant in Baja California.
The company already has a facility in the Baja California city of Tijuana and is actually planning to open a facility in the central state of Guanajuato.
Ford has insisted that its change of plans had nothing to do with Trump, but that has done little to change the perception that – even before he takes office – Trump is wreaking havoc with an industry which until now had been booming for twenty years.
“There’s real worry over what happened with Ford,” said Galarza. “It could be that one day you’re fired and they say the plant is going to close.”
The looming Trump administration has already sent the Mexican peso plunging to record lows and threatens to unravel commercial ties so close that more than $1m of merchandise crosses the Mexico-US border every minute.
Throughout the election campaign, Trump trashed Mexico mercilessly, and on Friday, the president-elect repeated his pledge to wall off the border, saying Mexico would repay the construction costs “later”.
His threats could not have come at a worse time for Mexico as the country confronts stalling economic growth and a spate of violent protests over an increase in the government-set gasoline price.
“To @realDonaldTrump : The more jobs you destroy in México, the more immigrants the American people will have. Think a little!” ex-president Felipe Calderón wrote in Twitter.
President Enrique Peña Nieto has appealed for national unity, but his government has struggled for a coherent response to the many challenges it faces. On Wednesday, he named a former finance minister who arranged Trump’s humiliating pre-election visit to Mexico as the country’s new foreign minister – prompting speculation that the president is pinning his hopes on forging a close relationship with Trump’s inner circle.
Meanwhile, economists and Mexican politicians have warned that Trump’s tantrums portend further economic problems as companies shy away from the public shaming that could come with investment in the country.
Federico Estévez, a political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, said that danger for Mexico was not a potential trade war, but the chilling effect Trump’s words would have on foreign investment. 
“They’ll be careful about their capital expansion programs in a place like Mexico because Trump will jawbone them – not in private: in public,” he said.
Much of the foreign direct investment in Mexico has gone to the car industry, which took hold in states such as San Luis Potosí and sent GDP growth in the region soaring above 5% per year.
The industry’s roots in Mexico date back over decades – for years Volkswagen produced the Beetle in the state of Puebla – but the sector has grown steadily since the 1980s, to the point that most of the world’s major automakers have opened plants in the country.
 “One of the main advantages automakers have in Mexico is high productivity and low wages in these plants. That’s attractive,” said Harley Shaiken, a geography professor at the University of California at Berkley, who studies the Mexican auto industry. An average car factory worker in Mexico earns around $8 an hour, compared to the $60 an hour that Ford spends on a US employee, including pay and benefits.
“You have mega transnational companies that are able to earn a lot of their investment in Mexico, in part because productivity is high and wages are depressed.”
Officials in San Luis Potosí recite a litany of other advantages which fall to companies that relocate to their region: Mexico has free trade deals with more than 40 countries, major highways and railway lines crisscrossing the region and a location in the geographic heart of Mexico, roughly halfway between Mexico City and the Texas border.
Left unmentioned are incentives from state and national governments, such as a 10-year payroll tax holiday and 60 hectares of land which were given to Ford – the price of which will be returned, the state government says.
BMW collected incentives worth more than 3.5 billion pesos ($160m) to build in San Luis Potosí, the newsweekly Proceso reported.
Critics say that such deals also include arrangements to curb the influence of unions. One arrangement allows companies to strike an agreement with a union – often aligned with the political party in power – prior to hiring any employees, rather than the employees forming a union selecting their representation.
“All workers that enter the firm have to belong to that union,” said Guillermo Luévano Bustamante, a professor at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí.
Local officials chafe at suggestions that the abundance of low-paying jobs has any downside.
“It’s been a total transformation,” said Arturo Bermúdez, town treasurer in Villa de Reyes, a municipality where people once survived on subsistence agriculture coaxing corn and beans out of the harsh desert landscape.
Before the car plants opened, “maybe 5% of people had a car”, he said. “Now, only 5% don’t have a car.”
But not everyone expresses such enthusiasm – especially as the plunging peso has reduced purchasing power.
“They’re paying the bare minimum, which, for me, is misery,” said Salvador Martínez, a long-haul trucker in Villa de Reyes – where most jobs depend on the auto industry either directly or indirectly. “Gasoline, tortillas, everything increasingly costs more. Everything goes up except salaries.”
And in Villa de Reyes, anger with Trump often appears to be tempered by discontent with Mexico’s politicians. Much of that anger is focused on Peña Nieto himself, who has the lowest approval ratings of any Mexican president in over two decades and has been been at the centre of string of conflict of interest scandals and pushed through economic reforms popular with foreign investors but unpopular at home.
“Donald Trump is one thing, but it’s another when your own president is screwing the country,” said Jorge de la Cruz, a mechanic. 
Mexican Smuggler: Trump’s Wall Is A Business Opportunity     
Illegal border crossings won't stop, but prices will rise.
NOGALES — From the halls of Washington, D.C. to Mexico City, and everywhere in between, much has been said about Donald Trump's vow to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But the Mexican daily La Jornada found one interested party who'd not yet been heard from on the matter: an experienced people smuggler along the clandestine border crossings.
Alejandro Moreno, who has been helping people sneak north of the border for 19 years, said the new American president's plans for a wall along the entire frontier is "an opportunity" for Mexican smugglers to hike fees and boost profits from assisting illegals. "We're already rubbing our hands," he said.
Moreno added that "the wall will be no obstacle. On the contrary, it will boost our earnings as we'll charge more for the brinco," he said, using the word "jump" that refers to the illegal crossings.
La Jornada reported that Moreno's network alone has smuggled more than 300,000 people into the U.S. over the years. The city of Nogales, in the Mexican state of Sonora, borders Arizona, and is not far from Tucson. Moreno notes that the frontier fence that already exists is 10 meters high, equipped with sensors, surveilled by 24-hour patrols and drones hovering over it.
"If Trump increases the security, the only thing that will happen is that we'll charge more ... for the risk. Also because we'll have to pay more bribes to officials, more to the police and the migra," referring to migration authorities he did not identify.
His service typically costs a migrant between $2,000 and $4,000, with Central Americans paying more as they were moved over a longer distance. Moreno revealed that since 2004, drug cartels had restricted crossing times as they needed to keep certain hours free for drugs, which were always "the priority." Smugglers now coordinated their crossings with the cartels, he said.
Moreno, who referred to his smuggling operations as "services," doesn't consider himself a criminal. He said migrants were only charged once they had reached a safe house inside United States territory, after often walking across 80 miles of desert. La Jornada quoted the trafficker as saying the border crossings help lift migrants "out of ruin" by leading them to where they can find work: "There are people who call to say 'thank you.'"
Though Moreno himself doesn't necessarily have the same message for Trump, he sounds neither sorry nor worried about any wall that might be built.