Building the Wall Timeline

A comparison of the events of the play Building the Wall and actual US immigration events.



January 2017

January 25: Trump signs executive order to begin constructing a wall along the US-Mexico border, hire an additional 10,000 border security agents, and to begin detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants.

January 27: An executive order is signed by Trump to block Syrian refugees from entering the US for 120 days, as well as banning immigrants from 7 predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. Mass protests erupt with demonstrators descending upon airports, government buildings, and courtrooms.

Gloria: “He wins, doesn’t waste any time and on January 27th issues his first Executive Order curtailing immigration. Chaos results.”

Rick: “He protects Americans, real Americans, and starts fulfilling his campaign promise to deport illegals. Not exactly a surprise since he’d been talking about that since the beginning. And come on, we’ve been “rounding people up” forever. Even your precious Obama, he kicked out way more illegals than Bush ever did!”

Gloria: “The courts block the Administration. They regroup. Homeland Security issues a new ruling and now immigration officials – and local police – can arrest anybody they think could be a risk to public safety or national security. Some states pass laws forbidding police to participate. Stand off.”

May 2017

May 23: Trump announces the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget that includes a request for $1.5 billion to add 51,379 beds to expand detention capacity at the border.

Rick: “Normal times you got maybe 20 to 40 people a day and processed out about the same but suddenly we’re getting 200 to 400 people a day and at the same time countries are refusing repatriation so you got this terrible overflow with all these people in limbo.”

June 2017

June 15: Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelley announces that the Trump administration is rescinding DAPA and DACA, programs aimed at providing individuals who entered illegally a pathway to citizenship. As of May 2019, the Supreme Court has yet to make a decision regarding the rescission of DACA, leaving protections in place for nearly 700,000 children of undocumented immigrants.

June 29: ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) announces their Surge Initiative, in which parents or sponsors of unaccompanied minors are detained and subject to enforcement actions.

July 2017

July 11: After a white nationalist and neo-nazi rally in Charlottesville that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer and left 19 others injured, Trump stated that “I think there is blame on both sides…you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.” Trump’s failure to denounce these white nationalist lead to increased racial tensions.

Rick: “I got to wondering about that at that rally, I mean if you can have Gay Pride and Black Pride and Trans-whatever Pride why can’t I be proud to white? Why can’t I be proud to be Christian? Who speaks up for us anymore? And it seemed like he did. He would say these things, kind of edgy, you know, things you’re not ‘supposed to say’ and he would say them…”

November 2017 - January 2018

Nov 6, Nov 20, Jan 8: DHS ends protected status for 2,500 Nicaraguan migrants who came to the US after Hurricane Mitch in 1999, 59,000 Haitians who sought refuge in the US after the 2010 earthquake, and 200,000 Salvadorans who lived and worked in the US after a 2001 earthquake.

December 11: A pipe bomb was partially detonated in the New York City subway injuring 4 people. This sparked Trump to call for an end to chain migration in the US.

Rick: “After the Times Square attack people were pissed. It was Nine-Eleven all over again…The Russian investigation was heating up then and the attack certainly took focus off that.”

Gloria: “True. They came as kids, with their parents, but none of them were illegal. In fact, the Oklahoma bombing, our second most devastating terrorist attack, was carried out by a US citizen, born and raised. And White. And Christian.”

February 2018

February 26: Complaint filed against Trump administration and ICE regarding their family separation policy.

April 2018

April 6: Attorney General Sessions announces a “zero tolerance” policy that directs US Attorney’s Offices in the Southwest to prosecute illegal entry or attempted entry to the fullest extent possible.

May 2018

May 16: Trump refers to unauthorized immigrants as “animals.”

Rick: “We were being paid by the body-”

Gloria: “The person”

June - July 2018

June 20: Trump signs an executive order in response to bipartisan outrage over family separations at the border that replaces family separation with prolonged family detention.

July 27: A court-ordered deadline for family reunification passes with 711 children still separated from their parents and in government detention. Of these, hundreds are still held because the government already deported their parents.

Gloria: “Tell me about Esteban Gonzales. The young boy….What happened to his parents?”

October 2018

October 1: More than 1,600 children were moved to a “tent city” in West Texas because the shelters that were previously used were overflowing.

Rick: “So, we kind of borrowed a page from Sheriff Arpaio and put up tent facilities in the exercise yard for the single men, but I didn’t like that.”

Rick: “Whatever the reason, people are stacking up. Normal facilities are overwhelmed. So, the government turns to the Private Sector because we can move faster.”

Gloria: “Like you, at Magnum’s new facility miles outside El Paso near an industrial park.”

November 2018

November 25: Photo of Maria Lila Meza Castro, a 39-year-old migrant woman from Honduras, running from tear gas with her twin daughters in front of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico goes viral and public outcry ensues.

Gloria: And Esteban – this kid – who has found himself in the Seventh Circle of Hell and somehow, amazingly, manages not just to survive but has the presence of mind, the courage, to learn what he can, wait for his moment, and finally take a stand. He takes a picture and sends it out and it goes viral and suddenly everybody is asking questions and they come and they shut the factory down and arrest you. Landslide.

December 2018

December 24: The first two children were reported dead in US custody. Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen M. Nielsen said the system has reached a “breaking point” from the “dramatic increase” of migrants, particularly minors, being detained.

Rick: “It was August, it was hot as hell so we were already experiencing dehydration in kids, the elderly, and immune-compromised individuals.”

Gloria: “In a seven month period there, five men died, including an epileptic Mexican citizen…who was denied medical treatment despite repeated pleas for help.”

Rick: “A Mexican citizen.” Some people would say if Mr. Galindo hadn’t been in the United States illegally none of that would have happened.”

Rick: “People were desperate, their family members were dying, their spouses, their kids were dying and if you got the medicine then you probably lived so you did what you had to do.”

February 2019

February 21: An outbreak of mumps in two detention facilities, including one in Aurora CO, quarantines 2,200 detainees as chicken pox also runs rampant. In Aurora, only one in-house physician treats the 1,500 detainees.

Rick: “I had an infectious outbreak on my hands!”

Rick: “Yeah, you know, the whole thing about illegals being rapists and murderers, being unclean and bringing disease into the country and here they were so sick and all and some guys felt, well, they felt like they brought this on themselves.”

May 2019

May 13: Seven current and former Department of Homeland Security officials go on record to share that the administration wanted to target families after the president’s “zero tolerance” policy failed. The government moved swiftly and 90% of those targeted were found deportable; coordinated raids against parents with children took place in neighborhoods.

Gloria: “He declares Martial Law and starts rounding people up.”