During arguments in federal appeals court last week, a lawyer representing Hawaii argued that Donald Trump’s travel ban for people from certain Muslim-majority countries was simply beyond the pale. “The government has not engaged in mass, dragnet exclusions in the past 50 years,” former Obama administration solicitor general Neal Katyal said, referring to the president’s (still blocked) ban of a “whole class of people” as “something new and unusual.”
It’s been looking for some time now like Donald Trump’s most notorious policy will make it all the way the US Supreme Court. But even under Barack Obama, the United States was pretty damn inaccessible to a “whole class of people”: the world’s poor, who often can’t afford travel visas and have traditionally been legally and customarily excluded from immigrating. The fact is we live on a planet that has largely come to accept and operate within a system of defined and militarized borders. So even if you abhor his shameless appeals to nativism, Trump’s ban (cruelly) reinforces a concept almost everyone you know buys into. But should they? Reece Jones, associate Professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and author of the recent book Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move, isn’t so sure. He thinks getting rid of borders should be your ultimate goal if you believe in human rights for all people and that recognizing and reckoning with the system of borders itself is essential to dismantling it.
I recently spoke with Reece about how to make sense of debates about the Muslim ban and Trump’s proposed wall given the way borders have worked over the centuries, and what it means to be alive when the international border system is at a violent crossroads.
VICE: Why should we be paying attention to borders as a concept right now?
Reece Jones: I’ve been studying borders for 15 years, and over that time, I’ve noticed two big trends. The first is the construction of border infrastructure, the deployment of a lot more agents at borders, the construction of walls at borders the spending of a lot more money on borders. In the 1990s, there were 15 border walls around the world. Today, there’s almost 70 of them. I also noticed this really troubling trend of the dramatic increase of the number of people dying at borders. If you look at the data from the 1980s or 1990s, we’re talking about maybe a few hundred deaths per year at borders globally. It just wasn’t something that [widely] existed: civilians dying trying to cross a border. By the mid 2000s, that number was 1,500 to 2,000 people dying per year, and of course that number has gone up even more dramatically in the past few years. In 2015, there were more than 5,000 deaths at borders; in 2016, a staggering 7,500 people died or went missing trying to cross a border. That’s why I decided to write this book: to think about why are so many people dying at borders and what the connection is between borders and this violence that surrounds them.
Most of us know what some of that violence looks like: military guards at the border, or migrants killed or injured by negligent or abusive smugglers. But in the book, you refer to a much broader conception of what makes borders dangerous.
There are different types of border violence. There’s obviously direct violence carried out by border guards, where they kill people trying to pass through border spaces. We see that on the US-Mexico border: There have been something around 35 or 36 people since 2010 killed at the US-Mexico border by the US Border Patrol. The Indian border security force is notorious for killing people at its edges: More than a thousand Bangladeshis have been killed by the India’s border security force in the past 15 years. That’s a very violent border with direct violence carried out by the border agents. But borders are also an example of structural violence, of using a system of laws and regulations that deprive other people of opportunities through the imposition of borders. The other ways borders are violent emerge from those structural factors. To me, the act of creating a border is inherently violent. If you draw a line and say, “What’s on this side of the line is mine and what’s over there is yours,” that relies on the threat of violence. If someone violates that and comes into the space that’s yours, eventually the only option is to use some sort of force to move them out. It relies on the implicit claim that violence will eventually be enacted to enforce that claim. Border guards are the most obvious iteration of that, but the whole legal system is based on the same sort of logic of implied violence.
The way that most people die crossing a border, however, is not at the hands of a border guard, but instead it’s because of all the infrastructure that has been built at borders. Because of the walls and the guards that are there, people are funneled to more dangerous places to cross. Instead of being able to cross from Tijuana to San Diego as many people in the 1950s and 1960s would have done, today those sections of the border are quite closed. So instead, people have been funneled to these much more remote places to cross the border. And indeed that’s the strategy of the border patrol: Their documents talk about making it harder to cross the border in order to deter people from crossing. I would read that to say, “We are going to kill some people who try to cross the border by making it really dangerous to cross, with the hope that will convince other people not to make this dangerous trip.” That’s why there are so many people dying today at borders; that’s why, in 2016, despite all of this focus on people on security and even humanitarian policing in the Mediterranean, there were nevertheless the most deaths ever last year.
When and why did the borders we all know begin to emerge in the first place?
We tend to think of borders as if they are these natural things that have always existed. But of course the idea of borders and the idea of having countries is a very recent phenomenon. It’s something that’s emerged really in just the past few hundred years, and in a lot of the world, the last 50 years or 75 years since World War II. It’s really a new and somewhat radical experiment for thinking about the relationship between people and land. The history of borders and maps are very closely tied to each other. It’s not by chance that the system of borders that we have today emerges as cartography advances the ability of people to depict the world at a very large scale, because then it becomes possible to draw lines on maps and to then use those lines to make claims of control over territory. There were, of course, in the distant past, edges to the control of different groups, but they weren’t depicted on maps, and they weren’t fixed lines in the way that we imagine them today. That system really comes into being in the late 1600s in Europe and is spread around the world through colonialism. As Europe colonizes the rest of the world they change the political systems there to match their system of borders, territory, and sovereignty. There are periods where that system starts to break down. That can be most obviously visualized with Germany in the 1930s. So after World War II, the idea of the United Nations is to create what is essentially a global clearinghouse to systematically establish the borders of all of the countries around the world. When a state joins the UN, they have to agree to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all the other member states: It essentially forces all countries to respect each other’s borders. After WWII and after the period of decolonization that followed through the 1970s, borders have been really quite fixed.
Primarily, a system of borders is a system for controlling resources, it’s a system for controlling people, and it’s particularly a system for excluding other people from access to those resources. It protects some sort of privileges that have accrued in a particular place whether that’s control of the resources, wealth, or a set of cultural or political practices in that place and it excludes other people from the ability to have access to it.
But some things can still move freely in this system. Labor is trapped, people are trapped, but money isn’t. What’s that got to do with the rise of populist types in the West like Trump?
The current system is what we term “globalization,” but globalization is really only for capital. I’s for consumer goods; it’s for the wealthy to be able to move freely around the world. Consumer goods and corporations very easily cross borders. As corporations are accessing lower wage labor in other places around the world to make quite expansive profits, there’s the need to contain labor, because if people have the opportunity to move to another place where there are higher wages, they would do that, and indeed millions of people are doing that right now. So border restrictions are about precisely that: containing labor and keeping people who would otherwise move to a place with higher wages in a poorer place in order to suppress wages there and to maintain that pool of low-wage, low-skill labor. It’s bad for workers on both ends of it: Workers in other places are trapped where they are, have no other option but to take a really low wage job with often really poor conditions. It’s bad for workers in the US and Europe as well because the jobs they used to have that had been protected by labor unions, had pensions, had healthcare, had relatively high wages those jobs have disappeared as manufacturing jobs have moved abroad. In some ways, Trump’s political moment is a reaction against this exact problem. My suggestion would be to open up movement for people and allow labor to move freely around the world, which would stabilize wages and would remove the incentives for companies to move jobs to other places. The huge advantages built in the current system for corporations would be undermined if labor could move freely. Of course, Trump’s solution is the opposite: It’s to contain both labor and capital. He’s trying to close borders to trade and put limits on the ability of corporations to move across borders. So it’s seeing the same problem but suggesting the exact opposite solution.
Watch our chat with a Vermont mayor trying to welcome refugees from Syria.
What does resistance to that border regime realistically look like? What are the roles for migrants and non-migrants?
I have a passport, and I travel, and in the process, I submit to this whole system that I’m critical of, and it’s definitely a bit of a conundrum. There are millions of people on the move right now who are contained by these rules of citizenship, by borders and walls and the security apparatus, but nevertheless are ignoring it and deciding to go ahead and move anyway, using their feet to protest the unjust system of immigration control that we have. So in a lot of ways they are the real activists who are questioning and raising concern about the system of using borders to protect privileges and perpetuate inequality.
There are, of course, a lot of other people doing things as well. There are organizations like No One is Illegal that provide help for people without documents and assist with legal aid. There are “No Borders” activists who also do things to facilitate people on the move. There’s a number of apps for smartphones that help people with information on how to access safe passage. There’s the Watch the Med project in the Mediterranean that’s a number that people can call if they’re in distress. There are people providing sanctuary for people who don’t have documents. All of these are steps to question the legitimacy of the current rules that we have limiting the movement of other people.
Do you see the mainstream consensus starting to be challenged at all, with a shift toward questioning borders? Is that one way to look at the uproar against Trump’s travel ban?
I was definitely heartened by the protests that rose up in response to Trump’s Muslim ban and wall plans. In some ways, it’s interesting to me that people are so riled up about this Muslim ban, for example, but they seem to be OK with all these other sorts of movement restrictions. What does this ban really do? It restricts the entrance of some elite people from these six or seven countries who were in the past able to get visas to come to the US. If you look at many of these countries, the rejection rates on visas to the US were already more than 50 percent. And the people who were even able to apply for those visas were [often] the elite. So the poor of these countries were already [effectively] banned from coming to the US. Still, it’s an issue that not that many people were talking about ten years ago. I think that the global discussion has really changed dramatically since 2006, when all of those senators voted for that original wall on the border. And my guess is that if that vote were to be held again today that none of them would vote for it even in the more limited form that they thought they were voting for at the time. My hope is that now people have been awoken to the exclusion that happens at borders that they will start to question more of the restrictions that happen in these places. I think you see that happening. People are talking about the problems with borders. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said last year that “borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians.” It’s not like he’s some obscure guy saying that.
But given the reactionary sentiment around the world, the sort of retreat by some major Western democracies, aren’t borders as indelible as ever in human culture?
These systems are always changing. Two hundred years from now, the people who are alive at that time are not going to be living in the world of states we have today. It’s going to change. For me, it’s going to change upward. We’re going to have some sort of a system that can address a lot of these global issues that have emerged. The idea of these separate countries with absolute sovereignty over territory is an idea that’s waning at the moment. And there are certainly reactions against it waning and you see that with the nationalist fervor in a number of countries. But just because people are afraid of that change does not mean that change is not going to come.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
- ^ arguments (www.reuters.com)
- ^ Donald Trump’s travel ban (www.vice.com)
- ^ have traditionally been legally and customarily excluded from immigrating (scholarship.law.duke.edu)
- ^ author of the recent book (www.versobooks.com)
- ^ studying borders (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ something around (www.southernborder.org)
- ^ No One is Illegal (www.nooneisillegal.org)
- ^ Watch the Med project (watchthemed.net)
- ^ voted (www.politifact.com)
- ^ said (www.businessinsider.com)
- ^ Twitter (twitter.com)
SAN JOSE LAS FLORES, El Salvador In a different era, Oscar Galvez Serrano might have abandoned his mother s tin-roof shack in the jungly Central American hills by now and set out for the United States.
Despite having been deported in March, Galvez said, he would have tried to quickly return to join his 11-year-old son in Sherman, Tex., and his siblings and cousins. He would have taken another job roofing, landscaping or washing dishes. There is something different now, however, looming over Central Americans decisions on migration: President Trump. Migrants used to feel that if they reached the United States illegally, they could stay. They ve gotten rid of all that, said Galvez, 36. I still hope I can go back there. I just don t know when. Trump has credited his tough stance on illegal immigrants for the sharp decline in apprehensions of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, tweeting in March that many are not even trying to come in anymore. In the first four months of the year, U.S. authorities have detained about 98,000 would-be immigrants heading north, a 40 percent drop from the prior year.
In El Salvador, which has contributed tens of thousands of border crossers in recent years, potential migrants and officials acknowledge that fewer people are heading to the United States. But they say that the slowdown may be temporary and that the drop-off may not be as large as it seems. The biggest decline in detentions at the border is for migrants from the Northern Triangle countries El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala according to Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Last month, 3,400 people from those countries were apprehended. The previous April, that figure was more than 16,000. After Trump s election, we saw the drop in crossings almost immediately, McAleenan said, adding that migrants believed that immigration enforcement has strengthened and intensified.
Salvadorans say they are taking their cues from undocumented family members in the United States, who are living in greater fear of deportation. Amid the talk of tougher border enforcement, smugglers have also raised their prices: A trip that once cost $6,000 could now cost as much as $10,000. Measuring the total flow of migrants is difficult. Figures on border detentions do not tell the whole story, since many migrants evade capture. Starting in 2014, though, hundreds of thousands of Central American families fleeing violence and poverty surged toward the border. Many turned themselves in to the Border Patrol, asking for asylum because of the gang violence in their home countries. Such people were often allowed to live where they chose as they awaited a distant court date in the backlogged U.S. immigration system. These days, more Central American migrants are resorting to sneaking across the border, a change that has contributed to the decline in apprehension numbers, according to U.S. and Salvadoran officials.
This practice of turning themselves into the migration authorities has diminished, said Hector Antonio Rodriguez, the head of El Salvador s migration agency, in an interview. They have lost confidence in the authorities. There is no confidence now to apply for asylum like before.
Rodriguez agreed, however, that fewer migrants were making the trip north, as detentions in Mexico which Central American migrants usually transit to get to the United States have also fallen significantly this year. He said that this was primarily due to Trump s harsh rhetoric on illegal immigrants.
We don t know what laws have changed. What we do know is what our relatives tell us and how people at the street level are living, said Manuel Flores, 33, a metalworker who was deported in 2009 and has three siblings remaining in the United States. The day Trump took office, they tell us, things changed. Two of his brothers have canceled plans to build a house in their home town of San Jose Las Flores, in a part of northern El Salvador where villages have sent migrants north for decades. Flores said his brothers did not want to risk a big investment at such a precarious time for migrants without papers. One of them quit a night-shift job because he does not want to be driving when fewer cars are on the road and he would be an easier target for police. On weekends, they now rarely leave the house.
Many people have frozen their plans because of this fear, Flores said. The slowdown in migration could be temporary, officials here say. Migrants and their families are watching closely to see if the Trump administration moves ahead with mass deportations, or carries out its threat to prosecute parents for paying smugglers to bring their children to the United States. But the pressures pushing people north have not disappeared.
People are waiting to see what will happen, said Brendan Forde, a 73-year-old priest who attends to the rural villages in Chalatenango state in northern El Salvador. I don t think the desire has changed.
In recent years, Northern Triangle countries have had some of the highest murder rates in the world, as street gangs such as MS-13 and 18th Street have battled for supremacy. The gangs also have squeezed residents with extortion demands. Since 2015, when there were more than 19,000 killings in the Northern Triangle, homicide rates have been falling in the region. In the first four months of this year, the number of homicides in El Salvador has dropped by about 50 percent compared with the same period last year, amid a government crackdown on gangs. Nonetheless, immigration experts and officials here say that thousands still wish to leave dangerous communities. Now, though, Salvadorans are moving internally, and seeking refuge in other countries, such as Mexico, Costa Rica or Canada.
I don t think there s any reason to believe the displacement has dropped off, said Jeanne Rikers, research director at Foundation Cristosal, a human rights organization in San Salvador.
A growing number of Central American migrants are seeking to stay in Mexico rather than continue the trip to the United States. Between November 2016 and March 2017, more than 5,000 Central Americans filed asylum applications in Mexico, an increase of 150 percent over the same period a year earlier, according to government statistics. At the same time, Central Americans are facing a stricter asylum process in the United States, where they must demonstrate that they would be persecuted if they returned home, according to immigration lawyers and advocates. New guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security in February signal to immigration and border agents to be even more hesitant in determining who has established enough credible fear to gain asylum, Adriana Beltran, a Central America expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, a research and advocacy group, wrote in a report. About 10 asylum seekers per week used to come to Sandra Guevara s office in San Salvador for advice on the U.S. application process. Now, she said, the office sees about one person per week.
It s not necessarily that the [U.S.] laws have changed. What has changed is the way they are applying them, said Guevara, the executive director of COIMSAL, an organization that helps people with legal migration. Now they [U.S. authorities] are being more rigorous.
Despite the Trump effect, many Salvadorans are still determined to get to the United States, where they have extensive family networks and the prospect of work. Pedro Arias Alvarado, a 42-year-old construction worker and security guard, got picked up by authorities in southern Mexico on his way to the United States and sent back to San Salvador this month. He said he had left his home country because the $300 he makes each month does not cover his son s university studies plus his other bills.
Here, unfortunately, the situation we are in is critical, he said, sitting in a processing center for deportees. What we earn is not enough. Arias plans to return to the United States somehow.
I m going to work two or three months to save up, and see if I can travel, he said. I would like to go again. Gabriela Martinez in Mexico City contributed to this report.
- ^ tough stance (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ Kevin McAleenan (www.cbp.gov)
- ^ deport millions (fivethirtyeight.com)
- ^ Immigration arrests soar under Trump; sharpest spike seen for noncriminals (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ live where they chose (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ Police wage war on gangs in El Salvador (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ highest murder rates (www.google.com)
- ^ MS-13 (www.insightcrime.org)
- ^ government crackdown (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ stay in Mexico (www.latimes.com)
- ^ wrote in a report (www.wola.org)
- ^ How an innocent man wound up dead in El Salvador s justice system (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ Fearing Trump s wall, Central Americans rush to cross the U.S. border (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ With NAFTA in the crosshairs, Mexico s border factories brace for the unknown (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ Today s coverage from Post correspondents around the world (www.washingtonpost.com)
- ^ Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news (www.facebook.com)
Some things aren’t adding up in President Donald Trump’s account of the investigation into his campaign’s relationship with Russians, an inquiry he says “I respect” yet considers a “witch hunt.”
The matter vastly overshadowed anything else said and done by the administration over the past week. Yet in the nooks and crannies of Trump’s rhetoric and that of his aides, statements on jobs, foreign policy and more also call for a second look. A review from another wild week in Washington:
President Trump, on his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey: “I actually thought when I made that decision — and I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.” — news conference Thursday with his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos.
The facts: The recommendation he cites came after Trump decided to fire Comey, according to Rosenstein and to Trump’s own previous statement taking sole ownership of the decision. In an interview with NBC two days after the May 9 Comey dismissal, Trump said he had been planning to fire Comey for months, and linked it with the FBI’s Russia investigation. “In fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'”
On Thursday, Rosenstein told senators in a closed-door briefing that he had been informed of Trump’s decision to fire Comey before he wrote his memo providing a rationale for that act, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
President Trump: “Even my enemies have said there is no collusion.” — Thursday news conference
The facts: Democrats have not absolved Trump on whether his campaign and Russian officials coordinated efforts last year to disadvantage his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Several have said they have not seen evidence of collusion, but that’s not to say they are satisfied it did not happen.
Trump has cited James Clapper, the director of national intelligence until Trump took office Jan. 20, among others, as being “convinced” there was no collusion. Clapper said this past week that while a report he issued in January did not uncover collusion, he did not know at the time that the FBI was digging deeply into “potential political collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians” and he was unaware of what the bureau might have found. The FBI inquiry continues, as do congressional investigations and, now, one by the special counsel.
President Trump: “I’m proud to say that under my administration, as you just heard, we will be building the first new heavy icebreakers the United States has seen in over 40 years.” — Coast Guard Academy speech Wednesday
The facts: Trump is claiming credit for something that started under his predecessor. President Barack Obama’s Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, spoke about the modernization of the Coast Guard fleet and design work on a new heavy polar ice breaker a year ago in a speech to graduating Coast Guard cadets.
President Trump: “Obamacare is collapsing. It’s dead. It’s gone. There’s nothing to compare anything to because we don’t have health care in this country. You just look at what’s happening. Aetna just pulled out. Other insurance companies are pulling out. We don’t have health care. Obamacare is a fallacy. It’s gone.” — Thursday news conference
The facts: He’s venting and not to be taken literally. Obama’s health care law remains in effect and people are using it. As of last count 12.2 million signed up for private health plans through HealthCare.gov and state markets that offer federally subsidized coverage. Separately another estimated 12 million were made eligible for Medicaid through the law’s expansion of that program. It’s true that many people who buy their own health insurance are facing another year of big premium increases and shrinking choices.
Trump worked with House Republicans to pass a bill that would roll back much of the health law and the Senate is considering the legislation.
President Trump, speaking of the MS-13 gang presence in the U.S.: “A horrible, horrible large group of gangs that have been let into our country over a fairly short period of time. … They’ve literally taken over towns and cities of the United States.” — Thursday news conference.
The facts: His depiction of the gang as a foreign one “let into” the U.S. is not accurate. The gang actually began in Los Angeles, according to a fact sheet from Trump’s own Justice Department, and “spread quickly across the country.” And it started not recently, but in the 1980s according to that same fact sheet. The department indirectly credits the Obama administration, in its early years, with helping to rein in the group, largely made up of first-generation Salvadoran-Americans and Salvadoran nationals. It said: “Through the combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, great progress was made diminishing or severely (disrupting) the gang within certain targeted areas of the U.S. by 2009 and 2010.”
The U.S. carried out record deportations during the Obama administration and, on MS-13 specifically, took the unprecedented action of labeling the street gang a transnational criminal organization and announcing a freeze on its U.S. assets. Such actions were not enough to bring down the group and the Trump administration says it will do more.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: “I believe that a goal of 3 percent GDP or higher economic growth is achievable if we make historic reforms to both taxes and regulation.” — Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing Thursday
The facts: Several quarters or a year of 3 percent growth may be possible, but few economists expect the changes Mnuchin has proposed would result in sustained growth at that pace. That’s because the U.S. economy is facing long-term constraints. As baby boomers retire, fewer people are working. As well, workers’ productivity is growing at historically weak levels. An economy can only grow as fast as the size and productivity of its workforce. If Trump’s policies reduce immigration, the U.S. workforce would grow even more slowly.
Trump’s goal of cutting corporate taxes could encourage companies to spend more on computers and machinery, making employees more productive, accelerating growth and lifting wages. Liberal economists argue that corporate profits are already high and any tax cut probably would go to shareholders instead of equipment.
President Trump on jobs: –“You look at the tremendous number of jobs that are being announced.” — Thursday news conference — “Jobs are pouring back into our country.” — Coast Guard Academy speech — “I inherited a mess. … Jobs are pouring out of the country.” — February news conference — “Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!” — on Twitter, after Ford took steps to add about 800 jobs in the U.S. in January and March
The facts: Trump’s rhetoric about jobs has changed, but the actual data about hiring haven’t. Job gains have been solid since Trump was inaugurated, averaging 185,000 a month from January through April, according to government figures. But that is the same pace of hiring as occurred in 2016, when Obama was president, and slower than in 2014 and 2015, when more than 225,000 jobs a month were added, on average. As for Ford, context is everything. After hailing the addition of some 800 jobs, Trump was silent after Ford announced Wednesday it plans to cut 1,400 nonfactory jobs in North America and Asia. That will most likely outweigh the jobs added earlier. Overall, presidents typically get far more credit or blame for the state of the economy than they deserve, economists say. And it is particularly unlikely that any president would have an impact after just four months on the job. Trump has taken some steps on deregulation but achieved little on taxes, infrastructure or trade to date. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from taking credit.”
Great jobs report today — it is all beginning to work!” he tweeted May 5, after the government reported that solid hiring in April had pushed the unemployment rate to a 10-year low.
President Trump: “I won’t talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet. I won’t even talk about it.” — Coast Guard Academy speech
The facts: He shouldn’t. Trump has repeatedly taken credit for cost savings that began before his presidency on this jet. Pentagon officials took steps before the election to reduce costs on the Lockheed contract and announced savings Dec. 19, a month before Trump was sworn in.
Nikki Haley, ambassador to the U.N.: “I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how, you know, we’ve always seen it and that’s how we should pursue it … we’ve always thought the Western Wall was part of Israel.” — interview on Christian Broadcasting Network on Wednesday
The facts: That’s a misstatement of U.S. policy and diplomatic history. The wall is in the Old City, a part of east Jerusalem, which the U.S. and most of the world consider to be occupied territory. So the U.S. position is that the wall is part of Jerusalem, not specifically Israel. Since Israel’s founding, the U.S. has maintained that no state has sovereignty over Jerusalem and its ultimate status must be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. That stance has not changed.
In addition to misstating U.S. policy, Haley stepped outside diplomatic norms in asserting a personal view at variance with that policy — that the Western Wall is or should be considered part of Israel.