The mayor of Berlin has asked Donald Trump to reconsider plans to construct a wall along America’s southern border, invoking echoes of Ronald Reagan to urge the newly elected US president: “Mr President, don’t build this wall.”
In a statement published on Berlin’s website, the German politician brings up the divided heritage of his own city to highlight the dangers of building barriers.
“We Berliners know better than most the pain caused when a whole continent is split by barbed wire and walls,” Michael Müller wrote. “Our division destroyed the prospects of millions.”
His intervention comes at a time of extreme tension between the US and Mexico over Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, and his intention to make Mexico pay for it — something Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has repeatedly said will not happen.
The idea of a 20% tariff on imports from Mexico to fund its construction has been floated in recent days — raising the possibility of a trade war between the US and its third-largest trading partner.
On Friday, Trump and Nieto spoke about the wall, with the Mexican president’s office saying “both presidents recognised their clear and very public differences in their stances on this very sensitive issue, and agreed to solve these differences as part of a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of the bilateral relationship,” according to The New York Times.
The border wall was a key part of Donald Trump’s campaign, central to his promises to radically cut down on immigration, accusing Mexican immigrants of being “rapists” and bringing drugs into the country. Estimated to cost anywhere between $10 billion and $25 billion, to Trump’s opponents it is a costly symbol of Trump’s extreme, isolationist worldview.
On Friday, the new American president also signed an executive order for “extreme vetting” that halts most immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries. The order could even block as many as 500,000 legal US residents from returning to America if they leave the country on a trip.
Berlin was split by the infamous Berlin Wall for decades — from 1961 to 1989 — and mayor Michael Müller warns gravely of the “pain” it caused.
“In the early years of the 21st century, we cannot let all our historical experience get trashed by the very people to whom we owe much of our freedom: the Americans,” he wrote. “I call on the President of the USA not to go down that road to isolation and ostracism. Wherever such divides exist, like in Korea and Cyprus, they cause slavery and pain.”
The mayor of the German capital added: “I call upon the American President: remember your frorerunner, Ronald Reagan. Remember his words: ‘Tear down this wall.’ And so I say: ‘Mr President, don’t build this wall.'”
You can read the full statement, in German, on Berlin’s website, and an English translation is below:
“Mr. President, don’t build this wall!” Strong statement of the mayor of Berlin-city which suffered from a wall- to Trump. via @JeremyCliffe pic.twitter.com/gWyPGzvPch
— Laura Schneider (@alauraschneider) January 27, 2017
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