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Disputes at Mexican border also about environment, private land

While conflicts about immigration policies and safety are at the core of the showdown over President Trump’s proposed border wall, private property owners, environmentalists and other groups are raising other issues, too. Texas Tribune reporter Julián Aguilar joins Hari Sreenivasan to talk about varying conflicts playing out as a federal shutdown continues into a fourth week.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Building more walls fences and barriers on the border with Mexico is at the center of the current government shutdown. For the latest on what's happening on the Texas border reporter Julián Aguilar of the Texas Tribune joins us now via Skype from El Paso. Julián you were just on the border the other day a couple of days ago when the president came to town and you describe kind of a scene of protesters encountered protesters but really at the core of it whether or not people want the war depends on who you ask.

  • Julián Aguilar:

    That's exactly right. You know so that's x Tribune we were in McAllen where the president's visits and the hours several hours before Air Force One even touched down there were hundreds of protesters lining the streets leading up to the airport. But surprisingly enough for them the Rio Grande Valley and the border in general people assume is a Democratic stronghold. And they do vote that way. But there are quite a few supporters of the president and this initiative even some folks that said they supported the shut down that those folks that were out of work they thought for but they you know had to risk the current situation in order to get things down and in their minds getting things done was building the wall and in keeping with the president's agenda you've grown up in El Paso your whole life.

    I've been reporting there on this topic when it comes down to the people who actually live next to the wall. What happens and I mean what what is their view on it.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Is it because they have to deal with the traffic that they tend to support a stronger fence or a wall or barrier.

  • Julián Aguilar:

    Well the people that supported that that's what they say and I think a lot of folks that aren't from Texas or even are from the border in Texas and they don't realize it at least in Texas we have the 1254 miles of the border. So for example in El Paso there has been fencing here for years. There's been the fencing that was constructed after the 2006 Secure Fence Act and that is just north of the out of the banks of the Rio Grande. So it's pretty parallel to the way the river runs and it's on federal land. But if you go down a river in Brownsville in the county for example a lot of this wall that's currently there is half a mile even a mile north of the river so it cuts right across private lands you know on one side they say hey you know what. I'm sick of these people going to my private land. I'm sick of them traversing through my farmland and you know I like the security that the fence has and some of them for the wall. But I think they are they are outnumbered by a lot of folks that think the wall is a symbol of intolerance and hate as we've heard several times before. You think that some people say it's a waste of time for Border Patrol they want to see more men and women on the ground more technology. And then you also have the environmentalists that say look this is going to disrupt the water flows in this era of wildlife and that I'd say on the whole from what I saw McCallum most people were against it but still again to be fair there were a lot of people that were for the president's agenda.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right. What about Mexico and the steps that that country is taking they have a new president who campaigned ferociously against his predecessor said that he should be taking a stronger position against President Trump and the wall but now that he's in office what's happened.

  • Julián Aguilar:

    You have President Lopez Obrador. He is taking a you know Mexico Press of policy stance and I think a lot of people were surprised when it was reported that they had agreed that Mexico had agreed to this. You know remain in Mexico program with respect to immigration and asylum seekers that way to Mexico and then a few days later there were reports that he did in fact not say that. We've also seen a situation in Tijuana where the caravan is there and the Mexican government seems overwhelmed and they're trying to do what they can. So I think while we know what President Trump says and what he wants to do and what he believes it's still a little bit of a gray area with respect to our neighbor south of the border. But you are correct that Mr. President Lopez Obrador is very much into Mexico first and trying to reassert Mexico's independence when it comes to relationship with the United States. But I think this is going to be interesting to see what unfold with the new trade deal and also with what happens with respect to the law.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    All right. Lillian Aguilar of titers Tribune using us via Skype. Thanks so much for having me.

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