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Where the US already has a border wall with Mexico

Nearly 25 years ago, the federal government divided Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, with a wall that looks a lot like the one President Trump wants to extend along the southern border.

Clothes hung out to dry at a migrant shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, close to the US border wall.
Jillian Weinberger/Vox

Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, are known as “Ambos Nogales” — “both Nogales.” The city straddles the border of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

For a long time, a hole-riddled chain-link fence ran along that border. Residents could cross back and forth with ease, and Ambos Nogales felt like one big community. As the longtime county sheriff, Tony Estrada, recalled, “On a Mexican holiday like Cinco de Mayo, they would actually let everybody come across the border. And it was a great celebration.”

But in 1995, the federal government replaced the chain-link fence with a wall. Over time, that wall has been fortified with surveillance towers, more Customs and Border Protection agents, drones, and coils of barbed wire. In the 25 years since, the wall has changed the community and the lives of its members. It’s also had deadly consequences for migrants who want to cross into the United States.

Now, President Trump wants to extend the Nogales model all along the US-Mexico border. It’s a drum he’s been beating since the 2016 race, a project that’s already started and that he’s campaigning on building out even further.

In the final episode of the season, The Impact goes to Nogales with the Arizona Republic to find out why the federal government decided to build the wall, how it has changed Ambos Nogales, and how the wall has affected migrants who hope to cross into the United States.

Further listening and reading: