Jorge Hernandez Corona/Facebook
The very notion of building a wall that spans the entire U.S.-Mexican border, as proposed by presidential candidate Donald Trump, has drawn sharp criticism, particularly within the Latino community on both sides of the border.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox has called the GOP frontrunner "absolutely" racist
and said his "discriminatory speech is creating violence within the same U.S."
Award-winning Univision journalist Jorge Ramos (who was famously ejected during a Trump news conference last summer when he asked about the candidate's desire to deport 11 million immigrants
in two years) called Trump "dangerous"
for "promoting in his speeches bigotry and hatred against immigrants and Latinos."
And most recently, in unlikely Detroit, a pair of Mexican immigrants have had their form of protest against Trump go viral when they were photographed standing in front of a makeshift wall, as they demonstrated along with hundreds of others Thursday outside the Republican debate at the Fox Theatre.
The images of the duo, which have circulated all over social media platforms — shared by the likes to comedian George Lopez, syndicated cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, and even running in the international section of Mexico City newspaper Reforma — is of southwest Detroit residents Jorge Hernandez Corona and Rodrigo Padilla. They're seen standing in front of what looks like a brick wall, with the words "Donald This is Your F****** Wall Send Me the Bill" (a reference to Trump's suggestion that the Mexican government foot the bill for the border wall).
Hernandez is a columnist for local bilingual newspaper Nuestro Detroit and a producer for Explosiva AM 1480, a local Spanish radio station. Padilla, seen wearing a large sombrero, is the owner of El Nacimiento, a popular eatery on West Vernor Highway.
Over the weekend we caught up with Hernandez, who told us how he and Padilla came to build the wall and how the experience has inspired him to be more politically conscious.
He tells us that he hadn't planned on attending the GOP protest, but Padilla talked him into joining him, in part because he wanted to be a voice for the Latino immigrant community in Detroit, which rarely gets the spotlight.
"The Mexican and Hispanic people here are very nice, but our community works very hard and don't really have time to talk about what's going on," Hernandez tells us. "Obviously people are against what he has to say."
Hernandez and Padilla decided the best form of protest would be to bring something that would stand out, hence the wall, which they built with materials they bought at Lowe's.
"I said that if I'm going to do something, the wall is going to have more of an effect," Hernandez says.
In the days following, the two have enjoyed some measure of local celebrity status. After the protest, the wall was taken to El Nacimiento, where Padilla allowed guests to take their own pictures with it. As for Hernandez, he also attended the Democratic debate in Flint and posed with Hollywood elites like Mark Ruffalo.
Jorge Hernandez Corona/Facebook
Normally not a politically active person, Hernandez's brush of internet fame seems to have awakened a newfound awareness.
"We need to think more, and know more, and if we have something we need to say, then we need to say it right away," Hernandez says. "Maybe then we can change things."