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Tears at the Border

By Kaylee Cooper

On November 25, hundreds of migrants rushed the U.S. border. They gathered there as part of a “caravan,” seeking aid and asylum across the wall. The overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol responded with tear gas and pepper spray. Eyes leaking, women, children, and families receded from the violence.

These migrants were accused of being “stone cold criminals” by President Trump. He insinuated that “unknown Middle Easterners” were dispersed among the caravan and must not be allowed to cross into our country, as if their ethnic identity equated them to terrorists.

Trump’s administration has repeatedly tried to justify the events at the border. Just recently, he proposed an executive order that would alter long standing asylum rulings. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, asylum was promised to those who would be harmed if they returned to their country of origin. This was solidified in the 1951 United Nations Convention. Now Trump wants to reverse these essential, just rulings. Not only is this illegal, it’s inhumane. It goes against everything the US should stand for.

Mana Kharrazi, an executive director of IAAB (Iranian Alliances Across Borders) and prominent figure in immigration issues, says, “They're coming from countries that are deeply affected by a lot of our policies and affected by conflict and years of struggle. So, they have very valid cases for seeking asylum.”

Barely a week ago, mothers and children were assaulted by our very own Border Patrol. Many of them flee from domestic violence and gang brutality. They run to America in hopes of a better future for themselves, for their sons and daughters, who now have to suffer the terrifying reality of the xenophobia entrenched in our society.

Tear gas is banned in combat zones. The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 that prohibited the use of this harmful asphyxiant was signed by almost every country, including the US. How, then, can we allow its use against children? These migrants aren’t our enemies. They’re our neighbors.

Tyler Houlton, DHS Press Secretary, said “Wanting to work in the U.S. is not asylum, wanting to be united with family in the US is not asylum.” He’s right. It’s not asylum. It’s a dream that should not be repressed by chauvinistic US policies.

This event occurred in our very own backyard, just a couple miles away. Some Americans that live close to the border say they could taste the tear gas on their tongues and clogged in their throats. One of the migrant mothers, Maria Meza, was scared for her life. She told The Washington Post, “It wasn’t right, they know we are human beings, the same as them.” Exhausted from her trek from Honduras, she said, “If they close the border I ask God that here in Tijuana, or in another country they open doors to us, to allow me to survive with my children.”

At this very moment, over 40,000 migrants are being held in detention facilities dispersed throughout the country. In some cases, they are torn from their families. Despite the Supreme Court ruling Leng May Ma v. Barber which stated that “physical detention of aliens is now the exception, not the rule… certainly this policy reflects the humane qualities of an enlightened civilization,” Trump continues to proceed with anti-immigration laws and threats, throwing caution and ethics to the wind.

America is entering a state of inhumanity. We are no longer an “enlightened civilization.” Every action the government makes against these migrants further degrades American respectability. There’s a disconnect between our actions and what we advocate. We don’t practice what we preach: equality, freedom, and diversity.

To Trump, all of these ideals are as valueless as the tears wept on November 25.

📷Maria Meza Runs with her children.📷One of Meza’s daughters cries from the tear gas attack.📷

A man covers his eyes as he squats beside his child in a cradle.


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