Got any ideas for President Trump’s wall? Go ahead and submit them. Seems like everybody else has. How about another Great Wall of China, a fortress on the Mexican border? Or one based on nuclear waste in a 100-foot deep trench? Maybe one that can withstand any kind of attack, even missiles? A wall of solar panels useful in the desert? A wall with art to make it not just an intrusion but a pleasure? Then there’s a utopian wall which is really no wall at all. That’s probably not in the running.
So what does the master builder himself have to say? All the fancy rhetoric aside, President Trump has confided that you have to be able to see through the wall to know what’s happening on the other side – drugs about to be tossed over, tunnels to be dug, some poor soul to be shot. In that case, the ideal wall already exists along parts of the border – an 18-foot high fence made of steel bars through which you can see the other side. No need to build a new monster wall at great expense. Just extend this one.
While landscape is preferable without the walls that have been constructed since friends were distinguished from enemies, the current steel fence on the Mexican border is one of the least obtrusive. From an appropriate distance, it even seems to blend with the mellow Arizona scenery, as if it almost belongs. Trump could do worse, and of course, no fence can extend the entire 2,000-mile length of the border given the formidable terrain. To work, it also must be manned. Contrary to popular opinion, illegal immigrants are not the problem, but armed and dangerous drug runners who now basically control all immigration.
And a fence can serve other purposes. On occasion, Glenn Weyant takes a cello bow to the fence at the town of Sasabe, Arizona, and plays his music on the steel bars. It’s definitely his own composition and elicits various reactions from listeners, but there’s no denying his originality, and the Border Patrol is tolerant. No problem touching the fence, but he’s cautioned: “Careful, sometimes rocks come over from the other side.”
It’s fitting that a unique use of border fence occurs at Sasabe, the tiniest of towns – a post office and The Store. What it lacks in size it makes up in reputation. A snug bar at the back of The Store brings together locals who – it must be said – are a cosmopolitan lot. Among them is man-of-the-world Andy Spear, who alternates between his 60-acre home in nearby Arivaca and another spread in Juno, Alaska. Michelle Peacock, a black singer who spent 32 years in the French Quarter of New Orleans before she decided on a different way of life in Arivaca, where she still sings when a band comes to town. “I’m the only black girl around,” she says.
Serving all is the sprightly proprietress Deborah Griding, a fourth generation Sasabean with no plans to live anywhere else. Surrounded by fencing and other swirling controversies, Sasabe stands apart, contentedly. The patrons of The Store have sought a small community that cares and found it.