Assistant Managing Editor
If a rock is thrown, is tear gas a warranted response? The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol deemed it necessary on Sunday, Nov. 25, as members of a refugee caravan from Central America began attempting to cross the U.S/Mexico border.
A total of 42 people were arrested by US officials and an additional 98 were detained by the Mexican government after Sunday’s events.
Despite a tweet from President Trump on October 29 categorizing the caravan as consisting of “gang members and thugs,” and raising a continued alarm about caravans as far back as April, the BBC reported that many of the refugees are mothers with children seeking asylum in the United States.
The people are primarily from Honduras, however, there are people from El Salvador, Guatemala and parts of Mexico as well.
In response to these people, the United States closed the border for several hours Monday and the Mexican military has placed forces in Tijuana to attempt to quell the situation. President Trump has threatened to “close the border permanently” if the Mexican government does not deport all the caravan’s participants back to their native countries.
Leading up to the recent midterm election, President Trump continued to refer to the caravan as “an invasion,” as if the mothers and children depicted by photographers from the Washington Post, BBC, and the Associated Press were akin to the Vikings making landfall, pillaging and destroying everything in sight.
Fear mongering as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue.” President Trump has done this constantly in the name of stoking xenophobic tendencies within the American populace in reference to this caravan.
Many of the people traveled approximately 2,700 miles to the US southern border, equal to walking from ESU to San Francisco.
What has created the caravan situation are decades of poverty, government instability and the rise of criminal elements filling in the vacuum of power. As far back as 1982, policy researchers knew that the situation in Central America was deteriorating, in large part to US foreign policy in the region.
The Princeton World Review, written at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs said, “the US under Reagan is continuing to strengthen repressive regimes in the name of anti-Communism.”
In the case of El Salvador specifically, there was a ten-year civil war from 1970-79 that tore the country apart into factions, destabilizing the government. The military seized control and backed a government that continually murdered civilians to prevent an alleged uprising.
The people fleeing the country now are the children of the generation who lived through those civil wars, caused in part by US policy.
30 years later, the US turns its back on refugees from Central America who desire the opportunity to work in this country.
Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” in 1883, the second stanza famously inscribed on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor; Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
On Monday, the US showed once again that much like in the case of the MS St. Louis in 1939 carrying over 900 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, that the promise written by Lazarus rings hollow and empty unless one is willing to wallow through the bureaucracy.
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