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In photos: Here's how the border wall looks up close

James Whitlow Delano has spent 30 years documenting the wall with his camera and writing about the evolution of the border region in southern California. His latest work was published by National Geographic. We are republishing some of his photographs here with texts based on his own descriptions.
Por: Univision
Publicado: 25 Jan | 03:19 PM EST
Muro doble cerca de San Diego, California, en inmediaciones del río Tiju...
Double fence near San Diego, California, on the Tijuana river. This double fence stops migrants from using the Tijuana River as a smuggling corridor to enter the United States. In the 80s entire families whould try and cross hoping that sheer numbers would overwhelm the border patrol agents, allowing some of them to get across. This segment of the wall ended the so-called "banzai runs” [a World War Two phrase referring to the Japanese 'kamikaze' suicide pilots]. Foto: James Whitlow Delano | Univision
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Comienzo (o fin) del muro en el Border Field State Park, en San Diego, C...
Start (or end) of the wall at Border Field State Park, in San Diego, California. In the early 80s, this was a simple wall of corrugated metal that stopped at the beach. Helicopters would fly over the wall, but it was still possible to make the crossing there. Now the wall extends into the water where the waves break, and this area is under 24-hour watch. Foto: James Whitlow Delano | Univision
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Sección del muro que separa la ciudad de Tecate, en México, del territor...
Section of the wall separating the city of Tecate, Mexico, from the territory of the United States. Usually, cities on the Mexican side of the border go right up to the fence, while on the other side there is plenty of open countryside. That's the case in Tecate, a city famous for its beer of the same name. In 2012 it received the tourist label "Pueblo Magico," for its beautiful landscapes and the warmth of its people. Although Tecate is a relatively safe border town, mountains both to the east and west along the border can be risky for migrants. The U.S. Border Patrol, as seen in the photo, maintains full-time surveillance of the area. Foto: James Whitlow Delano | Univision
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Sector conocido como Imperial Sand Dunes, donde se encuentran California...
Sector known as Imperial Sand Dunes, where California, Arizona and Mexico meet. The increase in surveillance in the Tijuana and Pacific coast sector has caused migrants to move east, where there are fewer patrols but the terrain is more rugged. This is the case of the sector known as Imperial Sand Dunes, which is popular for recreation among Americans. Traffickers, smuggling both humans and drugs, used to use all-terrain vehicles to sneak in amongst the Americans driving similar dune buggies. That is why, despite the difficult terrain, U.S. authorities decided to extend the wall across the dunes. Foto: James Whitlow Delano | Univision
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La valla se vuelva una barrera contra choches en el Valle Imperial de Ca...
The fence becomes a barrier in the Imperial Valley of California. Not all the gaps in the California border wall are due to rugged terrain. In this desert valley on the edge of cultivated areas west of Calexico, the border fence ends and is replaced by a simple barrier to block vehicles. Here the Border Patrol is virtually absent. Very occasionally agents ask about the nationality and the profession of people in the area. Foto: James Whitlow Delano | Univision
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Alta valla que separa a las ciudades de Mexicali, en México, y Calexico,...
High fence separate the cities of Mexicali, in Mexico, and Calexico, in the United States. Mexicali and Calexico are sister cities separated by a high wall. In Mexicali there are about 160 maquiladoras, multi-national assembly export factories that have made the city a commercial hub. But the city has also been affected by smuggling and drug trafficking. Because it has become difficult to climb over the fence, cartels often resort to building clandestine tunnels - equipped with electric lighting and ventilation - that extend below the fence and reach well into Calexico. Foto: James Whitlow Delano | Univision
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Muro frontera 8
The border between the United States and Mexico is one of the most active in the world. More than five million trucks and more than 10,000 freight trains enter the United States annually, carrying much of the commerce between the two countries. But trucks and trains come from far afield. Those that make the border come alive are the people who inhabit it. More than 14 million people live along the length of the border, often traveling back and forth. Only last year more than 40 million pedestrians entered the United States along the Mexican border. Foto: James Whitlow Delano | Univision