President Donald J. Trump’s journey to the White House began with a simple promise. “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border,” he announced in June 2015, when few took the hotel mogul’s presidential ambitions, or chances, too seriously. “And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Mr. Trump himself would temper those words shortly after his election—“for certain areas…there could be some fencing,” he said in an interview on “60 Minutes” on Nov. 13. But ultimately it does not matter whether it is a great wall or just a really long fence. If he builds it, they will still come.
They will come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where a deadly mix of poverty, violence and corruption leaves families with no other option but to flee north. They will pay a coyote anywhere from $5,000 to $14,000 for three chances to roll the dice and make it across the border. They will risk extortion, kidnapping and rape on the 2,500-mile trek north, many riding atop la bestia, a train overflowing with other migrants, or fighting for air in the back of a crowded truck.