Op-Ed: The Border

Kiersten Hacker, Staff Writer

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Imagine embarking on a journey to freedom, walking on a path of hope, only to be pushed back by the very people who are supposed represent the deeply desired feeling. This is every day, this is reality, for refugees and immigrants migrating to the US border from Mexico. Focusing on watching the borders with a close eye, the Trump administration has emphasized protecting the border at all costs deemed necessary, causing havoc to be reeked and seemingly endless amounts of conflict, debates, and protests. Tactics adopted to keep the “aliens” from entering are inhumane and unjust to a group of people seeking help and refuge. Why unleash military practices like tear gas and blockades, or hold migrants in custody and diminish the value of a human being? We are all living the same life, aren’t we?

Immigration controversy has consistently made its presence felt amongst headlines; it is a primary focus of the current presidential administration. With heightened enforcement from organizations such as ICE, families have been split apart, people have been injured and killed, and the immigration issue Donald Trump emphasizes so greatly has yet to be fixed. Recently a caravan of mostly impoverished people from Tijuana, in protest, made the rigorous trek to the border and planned to cross it until they were met with more undying resistance, the sharp metal of barbed wire, and a cloud of unnecessary tear gas. As they tried to reach San Diego, the police, “carrying riot shields, formed a new line… they erected metal barriers,” according to the New York TImes. The people walked into a fog of tear gas released by United States Customs and Border Protection officers. As families continue to be split apart, people continue to be killed, and the deep crevice of the immigration debate continues to separate the American people further. We are left in a stalemate where no one can win. The heart-wrenching photos are seen everywhere in the media, and every day there is a new story of inhumane treatment to our brethren seeking our help.

Illegal immigration has actually been at an all time low recently, hitting a peak in 2007, and has been at a steady decline ever since. So yes, it may not be the amount of illegal immigrants from Mexico, but instead their perceived actions and “damaging” lifestyles that have led many on the conservative side to put up this fight. They believe that many of those who migrate are involved with drugs, gangs, and other dangerous activities, and are creating environments that are unsafe, fostering more problems that the United States does not need.

However, the majority of the people trying to cross the border are not involved in illegal, potentially dangerous activities. Smuggling and gang action will occur regardless of what the government tries to stop. These occur internally as well and are not only Mexican immigrants. Drugs, gangs, sexual harassment, and violence will always be an issue that will not cease to exist; people, even American citizens, find ways to achieve what they want by any means. Yes, those who have done wrong obviously deserve punishment, but those who have not, there is no excuse. Highlighting the bad cases, a stigma has been built up about immigrants trying to cross the border, but that is no excuse to unleash military principles on a group of people that are seeking a better life.

As a country built on immigration, let us not forget our own heritage, migrating to the United States for much of the same reasons just about 200 years ago. The Great Migration really just never ends as every day more people join the melting pot of the United States with new dreams. Why show harsh violence to the modern immigrants, why unleash brutality and debates when there are far worse conflicts, especially ones that can be fully resolved? Immigrants are people too, and if as human beings we have learned nothing from our history, we should at least realize that it should not take endless protests, photographs, and death at the extreme level to accept fellow humans into our country, a country established on the very principles we are not following. Innocent migrants and refugees deserve acceptance and at no point deserve tear gas, barbed wire, and the feeling of their worth being diminished.