On the day that marked the fifth anniversary of the election of a pope who has called on others to “build bridges, not walls,” the president of the United States toured Southern California to look at prototypes for a wall he promised to build on the border with Mexico.
“The state of California is begging us to build walls in certain areas. They won’t tell you that,” President Donald Trump said on 13th March while on tour to visit possible models of the wall in San Diego.
The president said he was looking for a wall that authorities can see through and that would deter would-be crossers from climbing it.
The wall was a major campaign promise for the Republican president, who said that Mexico would pay for the structure expected to cost billions. The government of Mexico has scoffed at the idea of paying for it so the president instead has been asking Congress to approve $18 billion in taxpayer money to fund the initial phase, saying it is a security issue.
“If you don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country,” Trump said during the visit.
Supporters of the structure and of the president chanted near the site of the visit, but protesters, too, made their views known. Many gathered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in San Ysidro near the border, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Others, such as Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego, issued a statement saying the wall is a symbol of division. He had different words for the structure that the president called “beautiful.”
“It is a sad day for our country when we trade the majestic, hope-filled symbolism of the Statue of Liberty for an ineffective and grotesque wall, which both displays and inflames the ethnic and cultural divisions that have long been the underside of our national history,” Bishop McElroy said after the president’s tour of the prototypes.
“Our faith is in the God who is the Father of us all, and who urges us to see Jesus himself in the immigrants and refugees who seek safety and freedom,” the bishop said.
Many Catholic groups, including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis, have opposed the wall.
Picture: Border wall prototypes are seen near San Diego on 12th March. Image taken from Las Torres, Mexico. (CNS photo/Alejandro Zepeda, EPA).