The Mexican border is a line that sends an electric charge through the US presidential campaign.
Donald Trump has fixed on immigration as one of the causes of the tide of anger on which his campaign has risen.
If it’s not the threat to American jobs from an influx of cheap skilled labour, it’s the steady flow from Mexico, much of it illegal, that he says is unsustainable.
Hence his famous promise to build a 2000-mile wall, which has come to define his campaign.
He is right that this nation of immigrants struggles with the question, and his proposed “solution” has now turned it into a dividing line that will help to shape the autumn campaign.
There is a sour whiff in America of the European immigration debate: never before has it been used so deliberately to raise the political temperature.
But visit the border in southern California
– where they say it is the busiest international crossing point in the world – and you witness the complexities, not the simplicities.
I stood looking through the fence with border agent Chris Harris, and he told me: “There’s no silver bullet. No easy answer. A wall won’t solve it.”
I spent a few hours with him on his stretch of the border, about 20 miles south of San Diego.Mr Trump knew what he was doing, and it has worked.
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