Updated: Jan 17, 2019
In recent events of the Honduran caravan traveling toward the United States, misinformation is fueling many uproars throughout social media.
The Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Salisbury University conducts a weekly series to delve deeper into the causes and consequences of human movement in order to educate the public on topics revolving around refugees, asylees, migrants and immigrants.
SU faculty analyze human movement through various perspectives, investigating the sociopolitical, historical, environmental, linguistic, economic, psychological and security factors affecting refugees, immigrants and displaced persons.
In the summer, the southern Arizona desert can reach up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then at night, drop down to the 40s. It is an extreme climate, and until the Industrial Revolution and the advent of electricity, one that was considered uninhabitable.
Imagine for a moment, though, in these extreme temperatures, that you had no water, no air conditioning and no phone for help. This is the reality of hundreds of Mexican citizens migrating to America through the Arizona border.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they bring those problems. They’re bringing drugs and they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and I speak to the border guards, and they’re telling me what we’re getting,” President Donald Trump said when he announced his platform for presidency back in 2015.
“Donald Trump, and the rest of the government, have done a great job politicizing what is, in essence, a human rights issue,” Dr. Tim Dunn said in the PACE lecture: Immigration Enforcement at the U.S./Mexico Border & Human Rights.
“These people just want jobs,” Dunn said, “Studies have found that illegal immigrants are significantly less likely than their natural-born neighbors to commit crimes. What we should really be concerned about are the hundreds of border crossers who die each year — many of whose remains are never recovered — and the actions of the border patrol.”
In recent years, studies on immigration have shown that only a tenth of the remains of those who die each year crossing the border are recovered. A case study conducted last year using pig bones found that between the hot sand, wild animals and the widespread rural environment, it is only a matter of days before the remains are gone.
In Arizona, a non-profit group known as “No More Deaths” has been leaving jugs of water out in the desert to aid those crossing the border. The border patrol, however, has been filmed dumping them out, kicking them over and slashing the plastic.
Similarly, in Texas, ranchers on the border have been filling massive coolers with water to aid the migrants. They don’t want to see the people dead any more than the people want to die; however, Texas’ branch of border patrol — known as the Rangers — has no regard for the lives of the Mexican citizens.
“We cannot sustain these illegals,” claimed one Ranger.
Xenophobia is defined as the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.
Xenophobia has been present in the U.S. since the 1840s with the arrival of the Irish, but the Trump administration has taken it to a new level.
“Shit hole countries,” that is how Donald Trump refers to places like Mexico, Haiti, Central Africa and South America.
This is where the idea of the 30-foot-high Mexico/United States border wall comes from. Put up the wall, and stop the immigrants from coming in and “polluting our country.”
The problem with this logic is that the U.S. has two borders to protect — the Mexican border and the Canadian border. So why aren’t we worried about the Canadian border?
For the last 100 years, the United States has had varying degrees of border accessibility, but starting in 1965, law changes have allowed for the U.S. to keep an open border, and Dunn argued that we should keep it that way.
“Building a wall won’t help,” Dunn said. “A wall doesn’t only keep people out, it keeps people in. If we really want to stop the immigration of Mexican citizens into this country, we need to address the various push and pull factors driving them out of their country.”
“We have ambassadors all over the world,” Dunn said. “They can enact the changes we need, but Trump refuses to help.”
What is more on the politicization front, many of the “Mexican illegals” the U.S. receives each year are given temporary work visas — 8,000 were given out last year. Apprehension of illegal immigrants has significantly dropped thanks to these visas, and asylum is given to even more who aren’t given work permits.
Some argue that the border has never been more secure.
Trump’s other “tough on immigration” plans of increasing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and expanding other deterrence methods will cost the U.S. thousands, cutting funding for cancer research and schools and causing more troops to be deployed. Last week, Trump increased the number of troops he wants on the border from 4,000 to 5,200.
The constant politicization of Mexican immigration and the construction of the wall is all for show. Radical points of view on human rights issues get votes, and votes win elections.
Hate speech from law enforcement gets them more funding, and sensationalist headlines get the media more clicks.
The lives of immigrants and their families now lie in the hands of a government that isn’t even their own.
By GILLIAN VANDITTA
Featured photo: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins image.