I only read the news once over Thanksgiving break. Typically I would be ashamed that I tuned myself out of the global happenings for so long, but when I did tune back in, all I could find was “immigrant” this, and “caravan” that, and then today: “tear gas.” On Sunday, President Trump’s border control team fired tear gas over the border into Mexico to repel Central American migrants.
I mean, I shouldn’t really be surprised, but I am somehow still floored. Even people criticizing this aggressive action still defend that we need to keep the migrants out somehow. Most Americans seem to be opposed to illegal immigration. I can understand that. But I am not sure that I would call all asylum seekers illegal immigrants. By seeking asylum, the people in this caravan are not attempting to fly under the radar. They are not trying to sneak into the country undetected in the dead of night and reap the benefits of citizenship without any societal contribution. Their intentions are to enter through a guarded port of entry during broad daylight and apply openly with the federal government for protection.
If the federal government or Trump himself worry that these migrants are seeking asylum just to get into the country and will offer no societal benefits, they can reject their applications. The government has the right to determine whether migrants have a credible fear of persecution in their home country and on that basis can choose to grant asylum or deport. The violence that occurred today has no place.
I challenge you to evaluate your own feelings about immigration, legal or not. Are you, like many other post-9/11 Americans, particularly resistant to the idea of (relatively) open borders? Many argue that immigrants are an economic drain – that they are leeches on the social safety net that contribute crime, not hard work.
Not only is this wrong, it’s ridiculous. Every economic growth model and theory I can think of has population as a key ingredient. How do you think the U.S. has advanced economically so far? Economic growth uncoincidentally parallels population growth. More people = more labor = more output = growth.
The trek across the border is life-threatening. Immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border face threats of dehydration, overheating, freezing to death, assault, rape, kidnap, and murder. The notion that those traveling the thousands of miles to enter the United States to not work and not actively pursue a better livelihood is ludicrous. In fact, some of history’s greatest minds were migrants, and often they were asylum seekers. Descartes, Voltaire, and Hobbes were among many who fled their homes and sought asylum in Europe.
Perhaps some compassion, respect for the right of asylum, and a rudimentary understanding of economics could serve this administration well.
Image courtesy of National Post.
This article was written by Executive Editor Haley Skinner ’19.