Forestry expert and Longleaf Alliance research coordinator Mark Hainds quit his job at Auburn University in 2014 to walk the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
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“I decided I wanted to get away and do something I didn’t think anybody had done before which was walk the Texas-Mexico border. I did that,” said Hainds during an exclusive interview with Liz Claman on the FOX Business Network. “I found out one other guy has done that. I came back, I wrote a book about it coming out this fall and then I decided that wasn’t enough I was going to walk the entire U.S.-Mexico border.”
The catalyst behind his decision to walk the roughly 2,000 mile border derived from a midlife crisis after working at the university for 20 years.
Hainds began his journey in 2015, well before the ‘build the wall’ chant was first introduced into the political discourse by then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign, where he spent several nights with border patrol agents and members of the community who expressed their thoughts about building a border wall.
“The vast majority of people I have interacted along the way have been against the further construction of the wall or further militarization if you want to put it that way. If you were going to pick one community out that might be a little bit more pro-wall, it’d probably be the ranching community,” Hainds said.
During his expedition, he discovered 31 dead bodies on one ranch alone and 17 additional bodies at another ranch along the border.
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Despite the body count, Hainds said the people he has interacted with along the border believe listening posts are a more effective method of controlling immigration and securing the border.
“I walked through a bunch of those [listening post] along the Coronado National Forest, there’s almost no way to get through there without them [border patrol] hearing or seeing you,” Hainds said.
Although U.S.-Mexico border apprehensions hit a 17-year low in April, according to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, President Trump’s proposed border wall continues to be an ongoing debate throughout the country
Hainds did note that Trump’s crackdown on immigration and securing the border has had an impact at the border.
“It does seem like a lot of the immigration families view America as kind of more hostile place and I think that’s having an impact on immigration and I think that could be attributed to Trump,” he said.
Hainds, who has walked 1,010 miles east-to-west of the Texas-Mexico border, is the subject of the documentary ‘La Frontera’ and hopes to complete the western part of the border walk by Christmas.