When you watch the news and see the endless stream of people form their caravan that is headed our way you have a sense of mixed emotions. This caravan includes women, children, the elderly and men of all ages that are seeking refuge and asylum to escape violence and extreme poverty. This does not seem like an unreasonable thing for anyone to desire as we are fortunate in this country to live with a secure sense of safety, freedom and prosperity. Their faces and their desperation can be moving when you individualize them rather than look at the mass as one entity. Yet, some of the fear that stems from this graphic visualization we observe on the news, is that these people may threaten those very things we treasure and value most in our society.
With comments to incite the American people and fuel the apprehension and create a sense of animosity spoken by our leaders – emotions are apt to run high. As we know, often highly charged emotions, do not always allow for the most sound reasoning. Trump goes on to inform us that there are “criminals amongst the migrants” and his response to the violence brewing in Tijuana where they are gathered in make shift shelters is to say that “these are not normal innocent people”. To further heighten the level of reaction, he has stated that “lethal force is allowed” if needed for the troops manning our coveted border. While this may seem like a swift and simple solution to a very large and complex international problem, there are more factors to consider.
The US has threatened the Central American nations to the stop of further aid if this is not managed by them. Trump has also taken the stance to “close off the entire border if Mexico is not able to manage this problem”. Tijuana is left to cope with the thousands of migrants who are in search of a better life and they are unable to deal with the demands of the care for these people as it is costing them a lot to maintain them. These tired and frustrated migrants are demanding for better conditions – but who is and who should be helping them? Tijuana is not getting the help from their federal government for their crisis, so they are turning to international aid organizations for assistance. This is not a local problem – it is an international situation.
Much needs to be done, not just to help the migrants, but the communities impacted by them as well to avoid violence, discrimination and resentment. Be creating a better understanding of their issues and who these people are as individual people, not a moving mass of bodies, fear and apprehension can be reduced. While the US is “unable to refuse migrants seeking asylum at the border” according the laws of both countries, there needs to be a process that people, all people, can understand. A US federal judge has declared it as “unconstitutional to deny illegals to apply for asylum”. These are our own laws and practices, a large part of what makes our country and way of life – how can we deny our own laws? The challenge is to balance our sense of humanitarianism with our laws and our desire to preserve and protect our way of life.
While Trump talks about the wall – a topical point in the midst of this crisis – will it really work? These people are so desperate that they are placing their families, their young children in a very dangerous and risky position hoping to provide a better life for them. They travelled so far on foot carrying what they can, the little that they could bring, leaving their lives behind – a mere wall would only pose as another challenge they would attempt to defeat with their intense sense of purpose. Funding a wall is controversial and a costly endeavor that only supports the intellectual wall of feeding into our fears.
At the end of the day, can we simply leave this problem to other nations and not live up to our own constitution? Do we not have to do our part to resolve this situation rather than have the attitude of “closing” our southern border? This is not a problem facing Central America and Mexico – but one for the international community, including the United States. While I can understand many of the concerns in dealing with the caravan – we cannot turn a blind eye to these people in need. There must be a way to contend with this crisis collectively and compassionately.