Mar. 21, 2018

Melilla, Mexico, and Trump

After our episode about border walls around the world ran, I got an email from Zach Campbell, a journalist in Spain. Zach had helped us with research for the story about the young man who tried to climb the razor wire fences surrounding the spanish city of Melilla. 

He pointed out something kind of amazing — footage of people rushing those same fences had appeared in Donald Trump’s first TV ad when he was running for president. Though the ad did not say that was where the footage was from. In fact the exact words spoken over it were: “And he’ll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for.”


Politifact figured this out back then (headline: “Donald Trump's first TV ad shows migrants 'at the southern border,' but they're actually in Morocco” ) and gave it a “Pants on Fire” rating.

The Trump campaign released a statement saying the use of the footage was intentional “and selected to demonstrate the severe impact of an open border.”

I found that even more surprising. The Morocco border with Melilla is anything but open. There are four layers of fences, some almost 20 feet high. With razor wire. There’s also a trench, cameras and guards on both sides. All of that, and it still doesn’t stop people from trying to get across.

Listen to the story.