What the locals think: Not so hot on the border wall

4/20/2017 The Economist

border-circa-1990-usa-mexico-borderWILLIAM, a tractor-trailer driver, leans against his navy blue truck and stares across the highway to the crowded hills of Tijuana. He voted for Donald Trump, but roundly opposes the president’s plans for a new border wall. “People will find a way around any wall. And it’s going to be you and me paying for it,” he warns, as NPR, a public-radio station, streams from his radio. His attitude, which is surprisingly widespread along the border, hints at trouble for the president.

On April 10th the customs and border protection agency announced that it will test prototypes of Donald Trump’s proposed wall somewhere in the Otay Mesa area after it chooses finalists this summer. A barricade covered in solar panels, a wall topped by a monorail and an obstacle course in which one of the barriers is a 100-foot ditch full of nuclear waste are just some of the hundreds of proposals the department will choose from.

Otay Mesa is a natural place to test a wall (which is unlikely to be so whimsical), suggests Eric Frost, who directs the homeland-security graduate programme at San Diego State University. The border crossing is one of the county’s busiest but Otay Mesa still has enough open land for new construction. “The prototypes need to interact with real people and real cars and real trucks. It doesn’t make sense to build them in the middle of the desert,” he says.

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