by Sarah Whitman
In April 2018, the Trump Administration executed a zero-tolerance policy for people trying to cross the U.S. border illegally. This policy meant that children were separated from their families, while their parents awaited trial. Oh, and these children were being held in cages. According to the zero-tolerance policy, every person trying to enter the country had to undergo trial, because entering the country illegally is a crime (although, let’s not forget that seeking asylum in the United States is not illegal). But we’ll get back to that later. This family separation policy, along with audio from some of the detention centers sparked a massive outrage among Americans. Almost 3,000 children were separated from their parents because the Trump administration believed that this would encourage other families not to seek asylum in the U.S. *facepalm*
Fast-forward to late November. The government received news of a migrant caravan coming from Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela to escape persecution and violence. Let’s go back to the asylum policy from earlier. People can apply to seek asylum if they are in the country or arrive at the border and qualify as a refugee. A refugee is “a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country due to past persecution, or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” U.S. immigration law states that the government is legally required to provide protection to anyone who qualifies as a refugee. The zero-tolerance policy required that immigrants await trial to determine if they qualify as a refugee (leading to the family separation crisis).
Seemingly, the people in the migrant caravan would also qualify as refugees, right? Well not according to Donald Trump. Once news of the caravan hit, he immediately started referring the caravan as an “invasion” and calling the people “stone cold criminals”. He also called for border troops to “use lethal force” against the caravan if necessary. On November 25th, chaos erupted when U.S. border patrol used tear gas against the migrants, many of whom were children. Let us remember that SEEKING ASYLUM IS NOT ILLEGAL. Apparently, some of the men in the caravan rushed the fence and tried to force their way in, which led to the officers releasing tear gas. However, as Gavin Newsom said “women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That’s not my America.”
It’s not our America. Neither is a 7-year-old girl dying at the border, and neither is a transgender woman being killed by a border agent. Personally, I am outraged. So, that’s why I’m taking the time to write this article on International Migrants Day. People should not be persecuted for trying to find a better life. Do not let anti-immigration politicians tell you that this is the working class vs. illegal immigrants. That is not the argument, and Stephen Miller can take his spray-on hair somewhere else thank you very much. This is about the people making 2,000+ mile treks because they want to give their children a better life, and the fact that we have not created comprehensive immigration reform in years.
Today, on International Migrants Day, fight for the people who are not being given a voice, who are being separated from their children and are being tear-gassed at the border. Fight for those who are fighting for a life like ours. In less than 2 minutes you can make a difference. Text ACT to 52886 to tell representatives that we want comprehensive immigration reform and we DO NOT want a border wall. I stand with migrants.