Editorial — David Zilk

»The Wall« is existing

At the US-Mexican border close to Tijuana, David Zilk witnessed that Donald Trump's campaign promise »The Wall« is not just a concept. It has been existing for years and left David with a queasy feeling.

26. Juni 2019 — MYP N° 25 »Twilight« — Photography & Text: David Zilk

I am German, living in New York City since 2015. In June this year, I went to California to witness »The Wall« with my own eyes. Because it is already there – and for a long time.

Since Trump campaigned in 2015, it has been in the news almost every week: The promise to invest billions of Dollars to build a huge physical barrier along the US-Mexican border to keep Mexicans out of the US. The political narrative has changed over time since Democrats constantly pushed back and Mexico obviously won’t pay for the wall as suggested in his campaign. Nonetheless, the topic is not off the table and in fact it caused the longest US government shutdown ever in US history in 2018-2019 because of political fights around funding as well as a declaration of national emergency by Trump in February this year.

As someone who was born in East Germany in 1987, walls and their impact on people and society have a special meaning to me. I wanted to see what the already existing part of the US wall looks like so I walked a long way in a kind of desert-like area, close to the beach on the US side near Tijuana, Mexico.

Nobody was there, except helicopters flying around, observing the area. It was a pretty strange, uncomfortable feeling walking closer to the wall that was also on the beach and in the water itself. On the Mexican side, I could see residential houses literally just a few feet away from the actual wall structure that is made of steels. People were walking directly at that barrier. If there would not have been a car from the US border patrol stopping me, it would have been possible to shake hands with the people on the other side.

When I walked back through the outback area, I was shocked to see tons of clothes and worn-out shoes in the bushes as well as on the street. I looked closer and the labels inside showed “Made in Mexico”. I don’t know why all of that wasn’t removed from the area, but I can imagine the story behind…