Half the town it used to be: Living in the shadow of Donald Trump's border wall

Donald Trump is set to visit Arizona on Wednesday, six days before the US election. His much-heralded wall stands in the state and continues to stretch.

The planned 400-mile barrier has proved divisive in more ways than one, with opinions split between those who favour its effectiveness and those who say it's a waste of American money.

ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine finds out more from the town of Nogales, which borders Mexico.

It was classic Donald Trump. Four years ago, he sowed the seeds of political division by painting a frightening picture of illegal immigration on America’s southern border.

He suggested Mexican rapists and drug-traffickers were streaming across at will and touted a 30-foot wall paid for by Mexico as the solution.

If he wins next week, construction of the wall will continue. If Joe Biden wins, he’s promised that work will stop instantly.

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The Democratic candidate’s preference is to enhance checks at border crossings and build more surveillance towers.

Billions of US dollars – and not Mexican pesos – have paid for new or replacement wall along roughly 400 miles of border. The wall will have to stretch another 1,600 miles if it’s to span the entire frontier.

Border officer Daniel Hernandez: 'It's a very effective tool... it buys us time'

US Customs and Border Protection agents like the wall. They say it’s a deterrent and an impediment that makes life more difficult for people smugglers and drug-traffickers.

The town of Nogales straddles the Arizona-Mexico border.

Authorities check freight trains for any people on board.

These days, it’s half the town it used to be because Mexican shoppers can no longer hop across the frontier to provide Nogales’ American stores with the custom on which they depend.

Officially the ban on all but essential cross-border traffic is because of coronavirus. But critics say it’s as much about keeping people out of America, a way for the Trump administration to look tough on immigration.

Nogales mayor Arturo Garino warns smugglers will find a way

The mayor of Nogales says the wall isn’t money well spent, citing the discovery of more than a hundred tunnels under the border in the town as proof that the smugglers will always find a way.

American Magda Mankel, like many of the residents here, has family on the other side of the border.

'Trump's wall is a very powerful symbol,' says Magda Mankel

She says Trump’s wall is a very powerful symbol.

“It’s a monument to a lot of things that divide people.”