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Looking Back At The Impact Of The Trump Administration's Immigration Policies In 2017

December 27, 2017 3:38 p.m.

Looking Back At The Impact Of The Trump Administration's Immigration Policies In 2017

GUEST:

Jean Guerrero, Fronteras reporter, KPBS News

Related Story: Looking Back At The Impact Of The Trump Administration's Immigration Policies In 2017

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is KPBS Midday Edition I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The Trump administration began moving forward on its hard-line immigration policies. And how those new policies affected Mexican relations and immigrants. Joining us with a roundup of this years KPBS border stories and a look ahead to 2018, is Jane Guerrero. Welcome Jane. The new Trump border wall project is still in its early stages with no clear source of funding. You and the KPBS partner I new source decided to examine past efforts to construct the border wall. Report was called America's wall. Can you remind us about the takeaways from that project.
>> One of the things we found surprising is 97% of the current wall was built under the Obama, Bush, Clinton administration. It is new. Most of it was built after 2005 which is the year the government passed a law saying you could build a border wall without paying attention to environmental regulations. That allowed construction efforts to help and that's will happen after 2005. The other key finding was as we saw the wall go up, we saw sick if a kid decreases in illegal cross border traffic where it was built. But at the same time you saw a dramatic new routing of the traffic into other new areas, into the desert where there is no wall for example in parts of Arizona, Texas, into the ocean, underground, through illegal cross-border tunnels, to the sky, which was the most recent way of smuggling drugs with a few drones.

>>> So Trumps border wall project is at its beginning stages. What has been accomplished?
>> The testing phase is actually over. The testing is being evaluated currently. They were tested for how well they resist climbing, tunneling underground, and now the results of those tests are being evaluated. President donald trump recently said that he may visit the site at the prototypes here in San Diego.

>>> The prototypes are funded but there is no funding for the larger project of the wall, is that right?
>> Exactly. There is no money from Congress. It was $1.6 billion requested to start the wall. That was approved the house but not the Senate. We still have not seen any money from Mexico as the president promised during his campaign. Nor is there any indication Mexico will pay for a wall.

>>> You reported on for families who were separated by immigrations and customs enforcement when seeking asylum in the U.S. Can you remind us of the stories of the families.
>> These were families were facing violence in El Salvador. Three from El Salvador one from Honduras. They were fathers who crossed the borders along with their children. Their wives behind for a variety of reasons. One was a man who lost his wife in Mexico. Were crossing together and when they were trying to flee Mexican migration authorities, they lost sight of each other. The wife ended up crossing the border to another area. My story focused on one of those men in particular José Fuentes. His one-year-old son was taken away from him by immigration authorities. He crossed alone while his wife stayed behind in Mexico. At the time, they did not have enough money for all for to cross at the same time. They were very worried about the boys health. They had been traveling for weeks on top of Mexico's infamous trail of Hestia on the roof of the train and the boy was very dehydrated. They decided to split up. The father cross with the child. They were under the impression that immigration authorities would not separate a father and a one-year-old child. They did. What immigration officials say they separated them because they did not have enough documentary proof that they were the fathers of the children. They were taken the safety of the children in consideration because smugglers often pair children with non-parents to get them across. What is interesting and complicated about this case is for tests insists that he had his son's original birth certificate and his own Salvadoran ID. I saw copies of both of those documents what's the father scanned proper -- prior to crossing. He remains in detention and his son is in a shelter 1500 miles away in Texas.

>>> Is there any indication that this is a new strategy being used to deter immigration into the U.S.?
>> The York -- New York Times reported that White House officials say that the Trump administration is considering a policy to separate families in detention as we have already seen happening. Apparently they're thinking about making this a policy to deter families from coming to America as a deterrence strategy. This is something we have never seen before to have a policy that tries to scare off families because what they hope will happen is that word will spread that if they come across, their children will be taken away and that will discourage people from making the journey at all. The Homeland security Secretary has yet to sign off on the policy. Regardless, it already appears to be a practice. Not in the cases are reported, but other cases documented by immigrant rights groups along the border.

>>> Early 2017 he went to Mexico City with a delegation from San Diego. That trip resulted in a memorandum being signed but with Mexico Senate. What did they agree to and that memorandum.
>> They agreed to collaborate on Mexican legislation that affects ports of entry, immigration, trade. To my knowledge, no legislation has been passed to Mexico to address any of those issues. We have seen new vehicle lanes at the San Diego point of entry that are currently under construction. And the speed with which that project has been unfolding could be a treatable to the resolutions that were established on the trip.

>>> Do you expect to see the results of that memorandum next year 2018?
>> That is unlikely. Mexico has presidential elections next year. This is expected to change everything about the relationship between United States and Mexico. There's a lot of resentment right now in Mexico about president donald trump's comments about Mexico. There is a lot of resentment against the current ruling party which has been seen as being too friendly with the U.S. There are a lot of political experts in Mexico that believe that this time a nationalist candidate will win the presidency. That would potentially drive the U.S. and Mexico farther apart in terms of trade, collaboration, on anything, even the drug war and national security.

>>> I've been speaking with KPBS Jane Guerrero. Thank you.
>> Thank you.