A One Young World Ambassador is at the heart of plans to persuade Donald Trump to adopt a high-tech alternative border policy to his controversial idea for a wall dividing the United States from Mexico.
Mr Trump has publicly appealed for proposals on how to go about the massive construction project, which was a central feature of the Republican candidate’s agenda during last year’s Presidential campaign.
But he might be taken aback by an ambitious and ecofriendly idea from the Mexican American Design and Engineering Collective (MADE), a collective of professionals that includes One Young World Ambassador of the Week Estefania Henkel. MADE’s plans for a high-tech “ecotopia” called Otra Nation, don’t appear to match the President’s heated anti-immigration rhetoric during numerous election rallies.
“From its inception, the main objective was to unite both countries by getting rid of barriers, both physical and mental, by acknowledging the fact that - apart from the political border - the possibilities of the region unite us,” says Henkel. “One of the key points of the proposal is to do with regeneration along the river [Rio Grande]. In order to achieve this, the [two] communities would have to come together and be part of the project in the long term.”
MADE, which includes designers, architects and other professionals who have done work for the last four American presidents and the last two Mexican ones, has submitted a sophisticated spec, which it claims will be popular on both sides of the border.
Powered by an energy system of 90,000 square kilometres of solar panels, Otra Nation would extend for 20 kilometres each side of the border and link towns and cities by an eco-friendly hyperloop transport network. This utopia would have its own independent health and education systems.
Far from being an impenetrable barrier, Otra Nation would be a hub of international commerce in which residents and visitors mixed freely, confirming their identities by means of biometric technology.
“This kind of shared effort requires collaboration, understanding, and a willingness to grow together,” says Henkel. “This principle also applies to agricultural production and Otra Nation’s plan is to bring producers and workers together in this region to learn from one another and become better for the sake of improved production, work and the economy.”
She notes that there are “already joint efforts” in National Parks along the border that are protected by the governments of both the US and Mexico. “In reality, this kind of relationship already exists in the region - we are only trying to focus and extend it.”
The proposals might sound implausible to those who watched Mr Trump on the campaign trail, but MADE says it has submitted them to both the American and Mexican governments.
Henkel says that although there was a “one-in-a-million chance” that the proposal would be selected by the Trump administration, it was important to raise it as a possibility and to support it with facts. “We are supporting it with numbers and statistics,” she says. “From that point of view, we believe it is feasible and reasonable. It is certainly way more realistic than crossing canyons, river basins and ecosystems with a wall.”
MADE takes the view that to have not set out the potential of an alternative vision would have been tantamount to giving credence to the notion of a walled border. “We believe that this is such an important matter between our two countries, that saying nothing was the equivalent to be content with whatever outcome there is from this ‘wall’ idea. Sparking the conversation is as important for us as having taken the initiative to actually submit a proposal.”