Donald Trump has suggested the Spanish government should build a wall across the Sahara desert in order to tackle the Mediterranean migration crisis.
Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said the US president apparently made the suggestion during King Felipe and Queen Letizia’s visit to the White House in June this year.
Borrell reportedly said the president brushed off the questions and scepticism of other Spanish diplomats, who’d pointed out the Sahara stretched for 3,000 miles, with Trump saying: ‘The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico.’
Of course, one of Trump’s major campaign promises was his intention to build a ‘big, beautiful wall’ stretching across the US/Mexico border, which is around 2,000 miles long.
Borrell made the comments at an event in Madrid this week. A spokesperson for the foreign ministry said, as per The Guardian:
We can confirm that’s what the minister said, but we won’t be making any further comment on the minister’s remarks.
A plan for Spain to build a wall across the Sahara would be difficult, and not just because of the logistics of it all. As Spain only holds two small territories in north Africa – Ceuta and Melilla – it would mean building on foreign land.
Spain has, this year alone, had more than 33,600 migrants and refugees arrive on its shores, with 1,723 dying in their attempt to get there.
This increase has meant Spain has overtaken Italy and Greece as the main destination for people crossing the Mediterranean sea.
Earlier this year, Spain also took in 630 people after the Aquarius rescue boat they were on was turned away from Italy and Malta.
Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said Spain is committed to a joint European response to illegal migration, pushing migration further up the agenda after he took office, reports Reuters.
Speaking to local media, Sanchez said:
There cannot be a unilateral response. With the Aquarius we made a gesture of solidarity but a humanitarian crisis is one thing and migration policy another. And that migration policy must have a joint, European response.
The Prime Minister suggested the current crisis over migrant policy is, in part, due to a lack of European ‘solidarity’ with countries such as Italy who’ve bore the brunt of illegal immigration.
Sanchez has also met with French Prime Minister, Emmanuel Macron, who’s shown support for a joint European response, such as a plan to process asylum applicants in closed centres on European soil.
Amparo González, a migration researcher at the Spanish National Research Council and a member of the group Economists Against the Crisis, said the good summer weather, the closure of other European routes and a lax approach from north African countries has contributed to the recent surge in migration.
While Trump’s wall is still yet to be fully realised, more than a year and a half after he took office, it’s unlikely we’ll see construction of a wall running through the Sahara desert any time soon!
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.