Hillary Pierce, Producer - Documentary the River and the Wall

Hillary Pierce, Producer
Documentary the River and the Wall


Well, our Liar-in-Chief is at it again, claiming a huge victory for his tariff-bullying of Mexico, when his “victories” had actually been achieved in more conventional diplomatic negotiations months ago, months before President Trump started threatening an escalating series of tariffs on our third-largest trading partner.

The biggest of the so-called victories further cements America-under-Trump’s reputation as a civil and human rights abuser, since it dumps on our southern neighbor thousands of people who have filed legal claims for asylum for the months and years that a presidentially slowed-down immigration system forestalls their days in court.

The predictable result of Trump’s latest move to degrade “the legal way” to immigration will be to push more and more Central American migrants to cross the border in illegal ways.

It is, of course, a good thing that Trump had a metaphoric death-bed conversion, and just hours before it was to go into effect, withdrew his plan for an immediate 5 percent tariff on all products made in Mexico, with monthly escalations to a potential 25 percent tariff by Autumn.  This idea is so stupid, so counter-productive for American consumers and manufacturers, not to mention for the people and economy of Mexico that even Mitch McConnell had an apparently post-deathbed revival and warned the president his GOP caucus in the Senate might not stand for this classic punch-in-your-own face.

Someone needs to tell Trump that had his haymaker landed, had his tariff further slowed an already-declining Mexican economy, the likely result would have been yet more migrants trying to cross our southern border.  Improved Mexican markets for jobs and wages are what account for the “net-zero” condition of Mexican immigration into the United States.  Damage that economy, as Trump’s tariffs would, and fewer Mexicans will be employed and more will seek opportunities across the border to the north.

In a perverse way (and is there any other way look at Trump policies?), that worsening of an already melodramatized “crisis,” may have been the president’s real intent.  In the absence of any legislative accomplishments, fear-mongering is this criminal incompetent’s route to reelection (perish the thought).

Fear of immigrants, a growing percentage of them impoverished women and children, is behind Trump’s never-gonna-happen campaign promise of an “impenetrable, powerful, beautiful” border wall.  In an excellent new documentary film, The River and the Wall, the U.S. congressman whose district covers more border mileage designated for walling than any other calls Trump’s wall idea, “the most expensive and least effective way to gain operational control of the border.”

That congressman, Will Hurd, is a Republican, a former CIA undercover, and a self-proclaimed obsessive about border control issues.  He illustrates one basic fact about Trump’s proposal: the closer you live to the border, the more you know about it and the people who cross it, legally and illegally, and the less likely you are to support the wall.

Set aside that all three of Trump’s adjectives misdescribe the reality of the wall, which will not be “impenetrable,” can hardly be considered “beautiful” and puts on display not America’s power, but its spiteful, cringing weakness.  Consider, with The River and the Wall’s director Ben Masters and his team of fellow-travelers, cinematographers, sound recordists and producers what the wall would do to the landscape, the ecology, the economy, the people and the wildlife on both sides of our 2000 mile frontier with Mexico.



Hillary Pierce is an Emmy Award-winning documentary procures, based in Austin Texas. She was part of the producing team behind Keith Maitland’s dual 2016 documentaries Tower and A Song For You: The Austin City Limits Story.  Hillary began her documentary career at Maysles Film under the tutelage of Direct Cinema pioneer Albert Maysles, and earned an MFA in Documentary Film at Wake Forest University.  Her film The One Who Builds tells the story of the Muslim director of a refugee resettlement agency in the American South.  Tower won the Grand Jury Documentary Prize and Audience Award at SWSX in 2016, was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens and was short-listed for an Academy Award.  It won a 2018 Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Documentary.




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