A lone ladder seeker comes out on the U.S.’ southern border in search of the crude wooden devices as fervently as those who seek golden coins with their metal detectors. He starts at his ground zero and moves up the Rio Grande Valley. Why would someone do this?
Scott Nicol, 51, is an artist and an activist He starts his eight-mile hunt between Hidalgo and Granjeno, Mexico. This is where President Barack Obama’s wall ends and Donald Trump’s new wall meet.
In a dirt field behind a Hidalgo flea market, he quickly discovers a ladder. This one is about 12-feet long but it only has six rungs. Nicol said, according to The Texas Monthly:
‘It’s made of cheap, rough wood, quickly n]ailed together because it is only going to be used once. Unlike the wall, these ladders are functional.’
All of a sudden a group of about 30 migrants rises up from behind some bushes, all of their possessions in plastic bags. As they sit there waiting for the U.S. Border Patrol. After a half of an hour, agents show and takes the group:
‘They shuffle down the levee wall and onto a waiting bus bound for a processing center where they will request asylum. It’s early yet, a border agent tells me, and the groups will only grow larger into the evening. As for the ladder?’
Nicol actively opposed the border wall. The irony does not escape him. The asylum seekers turn themselves into the agents, then the agents walk them through the gates in the wall. Unauthorized migrants use these rough ladders to easily bridge Trump’s $27 million per mile wall project:
‘These ladders are probably $5 worth of hardware, and they’re defeating a wall that cost $12 million a mile in that location.’
Nicol is quite familiar with the 55-mile stretch along the Rio Grande Valley. He has been involved with the wall for over a decade collecting the meager belongings that migrants either lose or just leave during the border agent apprehension:
‘I try to understand the realities of migration and enforcement, and the ladders show how absurd the idea is that a wall is going to stop anybody.’
He collects the ladders scattered along and against the multi-billion-dollar pet project of the previous president. Usually, they are built from scrap lumber and are of various lengths. Some would reach the top of Trump’s wall, around 18-feet long. Others just give them purchase to reach the top of the wall.
These heavy throw-away wooden ladders provide the migrants access to the Texas bank of the Rio Grande River then onto the levee wall. The Border Patrol agents run their trucks over them to break them up and then throw the broken pieces into piles. When those piles grow big enough, city workers from Hidalgo take them to the landfill.
Nicol continues his search for ladders both from his car and walking. The next one he finds is near Granjeno along Trump’s 1.3-mile wall and the 1.75-mile section of wall President George W. Bush approved and President Barack Obama constructed.
Trump’s wall reaches a grand total of 11.4 miles at a cost of $27 million per mile. Since President Biden took office, the number of migrants ballooned to over 171,000 in March. That was the largest number of migrants in over 15 years.
Nicol said the wall was not about people nor drugs. It was about slowing down migrants’ progress:
‘Border walls are just backdrops for politicians who want to rile up their voters. They have political value, and that’s what counts.’
McAllen-based Border Patrol agent and local spokesperson for the National Border Patrol Council (a labor union) Chris Cabrera said:
‘Despite its obvious vulnerabilities, some border agents maintain that the wall serves a useful purpose. While it won’t stop everyone, it will slow them down and give agents time to react.’
‘Nine times out of ten we’re going to catch them. We have people turning themselves over, and at the same time, when it’s dark we have people with ladders, but we got nobody to go over because we’re tied up.’
One Border Patrol agent said:
‘Ladders and walls go together like peas and carrots.’
Professor of architecture at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary, Ronald Rael said:
‘A wall is a medieval war technology, and the responses to it are antiquated technologies that have been proven to surmount it, that includes ladders, catapults, and tunnels.’
Associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera claimed:
‘The companies that build the wall are the ones who are benefiting, not just from building it, but maintaining it and adding technology to it.’
Given the number of children crossing alone, The El Paso Times wrote:
‘The oil worker lodge-turned-shelter in Pecos, Texas, is among 15 ’emergency intake sites’ the Biden administration is using to house migrant children.’
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any ord