For decades, the American political asylum process has been used to punish enemies and reward friends of the US government. Refugees from Cuba can walk through an open door. People fleeing Eastern Europe have been judged very differently than those trying to escape persecution in “friendly” but deeply violent states like Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia and Honduras.
From a storefront law office in the US border city of El Paso, Texas, one man set out to challenge that system. Carlos Specter has filed hundreds of political asylum cases on behalf of human rights defenders, journalists, and political dissidents, and though his legal activism has only inched the process forward—98% of refugees from Mexico are still denied asylum—his myriad legal cases and the media fallout from them has increasingly put US immigration policy, the corrupt state of Mexico, and the political basis of immigration, asylum, and deportation decisions—on the spot.
We Built the Wall is an immersive, engrossing story of a new front in the immigration wars.