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U.S. Border Patrol Agents at Border Field State Park in Imperial Beach watch over personnel that are reinforcing the border wall with concertina wire.

U.S. Border Patrol Agents at Border Field State Park in Imperial Beach watch over personnel that are reinforcing the border wall with concertina wire. (Photo: Mani Albrecht/U.S. Border Patrol/Flickr)

Dem Lawmaker Warns: Whether You Call it a Fence or a Wall, Trump is Winning on the Border

"This is not a time to tell ourselves that Trump is losing. This is being built as we speak."

Eoin Higgins

In a series of tweets Friday excoriating a recent Washington Post "Fact Checker" column downplaying the rate of President Donald Trump's border wall construction, Rep. Raúl Grijalva laid out why the article and similar gotcha attempts are "dangerous."

Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat whose district borders Mexico, was responding to a piece by Post reporter Salvador Rizzo which gave the president three "Pinocchios" for claiming that the wall was under construction when, Rizzo said, the fact is that the administration is simply replacing older sections of existing wall with new fencing instead of building 1,000 miles of promised new barrier. 

"Replacing a fence with a 30-foot structure covered in double razor wire and topped with floodlights qualifies as new construction no matter where it happens," tweeted Grijalva. "This is not a time to tell ourselves that Trump is losing. This is being built as we speak."

Grijalva also pointed to a worrying tendency in the media to take short-term, technical victories over Trump while disregarding the reality of the administration's policies and its victims.

"The idea that this doesn't count as 'new wall,' and therefore there’s nothing to see here, is dangerous and leads to complacency," said Grijalva. "Thumbing our noses at Trump is no substitute for on-the-ground reporting."

And, the lawmaker said, it's important to remember what the wall means. 

"This is an intentional symbol of hate and fear, not a security measure," said Grijalva.

Rizzo, for his part, replied that the Post fact-check relied on distinguishing between "the sturdier steel bollard fencing that is replacing dilapidated old fences from what Trump actually promised: a massive new concrete wall stretching 1,000 miles."

But Grijalva's point was well taken by fellow lawmakers and immigration advocates. 

"Thank you Rep. Raúl Grivalja for setting the record straight about what is actually happening with the construction of Trump's border wall,"  Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.) tweeted.

The Post reporting was "very inaccurate and irresponsible" said Wildlands Network’s borderlands program director Myles Traphagen.

"Thirty foot wall is being [built] while I write this," Traphagen added.

Grijalva ended his thread by scolding the Post for missing the forest for the trees.

"The conversation about the wall has to be about stopping it and making sure Trump and his successors don't expand it," said Girjalva. "They want this to grow beyond public control. Treating the wall as just a chance to be clever at Trump's expense is irresponsible."

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