• February 25th, 2024
  • Sunday, 03:28:44 PM

Brilliant New $5.34 Ladder Defeats Not So Brilliant $2.5 Billion Wall


Abby Zimet


“A wise man lets a fool build a wall before choosing the height of his ladder.” – Socrates

Thanks to his ineffable stupidity – cue hilariously skewered tweet about kings and Ralph Waldo Emerson (When you strike at a king, you must kill him), who he probably thinks is that guy in kids’ books always hiding in crowds – Trump has proposed spending another $3.8 billion for his “beautiful” and “impregnable” border wall – the estimated $21.7 billion one that México was going to pay for, that so far has seen just 100 miles refurbished, that he once claimed couldn’t be climbed by world-class climbers who charged he was “full of shit as usual,” and that has prompted savvy observers to note, “The day they build a 10-foot wall on the Texan border, the 11-foot ladder business in México will boom.” Just so: Over time, scores of aspiring migrants have successfully breached the stupidity with an array of unsurprising tools.

They’ve scrambled up it singly or in pairs with cheap rope and wood ladders, shimmying down fireman-style; they’ve scaled it in groups, with Border Patrol video to prove it; they’ve both sliced through it with $100 power saws and then learned to slyly leave the severed posts in place for up-and-coming fellow-travelers, a trick border agents now check for by kicking the fence (but only, of course, after they’re through); they’ve welcomed Mother Nature’s windy help; and they’ve gotten at least one Jeep atop the wall by ramp, but then got it stuck. Last year, their supporters also campaigned to Make Tacos Not Walls, and raised over $160,000 for “Ladders Not Walls,” which in fact went to the Texas-based RAICES.

Now, Mexicans still determined to come here despite our national mayhem have discovered a new, cheap, go-to method of scaling Dear Leader’s pesky, pointless pet project. Using two lengths of light, cubed, readily available rebar called castillo – ubiquitous in Mexican construction and LOL the wall itself – they’re fashioning hook-and-ladder rigs; the rebar is fitted with steps, and connected to four thinner poles bent into a U-shape to hug the top of the wall. The rust-colored rebar is naturally, fortuitously camouflaged, barely visible against the rust brown wall. And it’s dirt cheap: Six meters of castillo cost 99 pesos, about $5.34, at Juárez’ Hágalo – or Do It Yourself – True Value hardware store.

Last spring, the new ladders started turning up near the El Paso section of wall, where the number of single male migrants who mostly use them has nearly doubled in recent months; border agents say the level of “evading activity” has likewise soared. Last week, they found 9 ladders in one spot. Meanwhile, the whole stretch of border is littered with rusted rebar – waiting on the Mexican side, yanked down on the U.S. side, poking from dumpsters, their users long gone. Outwitted and conscripted into ludicrous service, agents say all they can do is pull abandoned ladders off the wall, cut them up, and hope they can’t be used again. “It’s a very powerful, very powerful wall,” Trump brayed at a September rally there, “the likes of which, probably, to this extent, has not been built before.”


Abby Zimet is a Further columnist with CommonDreams.


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