On Nov. 25, a peaceful march of migrants at the U.S./Mexico border devolved into violence.
American border patrol agents began firing cans of tear gas into a crowd of nearly 500 migrants, including young children, at the border. BBC reported some children fainted due to the exposure to the gas.
President Donald Trump claimed the border patrol agents were “forced” to use tear gas because the agents were “being rushed by some very tough people.”
Trump often claims there is a “crisis” or an “invasion” at the border, with an influx of people trying to cross.
He uses this lie to justify violence.
A report from NPR said the total number of migrants apprehended at the border decreased in the past year and has remained “far below” the number of arrests made during the ’90s and 2000s.
For months, Trump has claimed the migrants threaten the safety of our country. These fear-mongering tactics have given Americans who believe Trump a face for all their problems – immigrants from nations perceived to have high rates of violence.
But according to a study conducted by the University of Buffalo, even with the population of immigrants nearly doubling from 1980 to 2016, the instances of immigrant-perpetrated violent and non-violent crime has gone down nearly 50 percent.
The real crisis is the large-scale humanitarian emergencies around the world causing members of our international community to turn to us for help. And when they do, they are being violently rejected by our U.S. border patrol agents.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it is “now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record” across the globe.
According to the UNHCR, as of 2017, 68.5 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. There were 3.1 million people seeking asylum, similar to the migrants at our border.
This year, those numbers have doubtless grown.
According to Amnesty International, international law dictates the U.S is required to hear the cases of anyone who arrives in the U.S. to claim asylum. Additionally, seekers cannot be banned based on the country from which they are fleeing, and the U.S. may not force individuals to return to countries where their safety is at risk.
According to NPR, of the nearly 6,000 migrants from the “caravan” seeking asylum in the United States, only 40-100 of those individual requests are being processed each day. At this rate, it will take months – perhaps years – to assess every case. During that time, these migrants are left vulnerable.
We must decide as a nation what we are willing to provide for people who, had the circumstances been slightly different, could be us. Can we, at the very least, agree not to cause further harm to people already fleeing violence and persecution?
We at The Gatepost are not advocating for the immigration and asylum system to be entirely dismantled. Immigration restrictions help protect the welfare of our country. However, our system for immigration shouldn’t be built around the polarizing ideas of “build a wall” or “no borders.”
There must be equity in the system – a fast-paced and balanced way to screen potential asylum seekers without the people operating that system resorting to violence.
If we are a nation of true integrity, we will not only to adhere to international law, but go beyond it to provide a humane and empathetic response for those who come to us seeking shelter.