I don’t usually write about politics, but after working my first week on Capitol Hill, there are a few issues that have really gotten to me that I really just have to vent about. Today I attended a briefing on the crisis at the U.S. Mexico Border regarding the increasing numbers of adolescent crossings across the border. Statistically, there have been 47,000 crossings over the past year, a 92% increase since FY2013, originating primarily from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. I don’t want to alienate people on either side of the political discussion, but I do need to express my thoughts on why and how we can treat this issue with a little more humanity.
I think when an issue such as immigration becomes so overblown by statistics and the media, it ultimately becomes politicized to the point that people become entranced by what they hear from the news and lose perspective on what something such as “mass deportation” means. It has come to the point that kids are defined as a security threat and no longer acknowledged as human beings. In another life, they could just as easily have been you or me. And the fact is, when they choose to migrate to the U.S., they understand the risks, the likelihood of limb amputation, rape, trafficking, probably never seeing their mom or dad ever again. They choose to risk the journey because its still better than what they currently face. Rates of violence that are 160-180% greater than those of the U.S., possibly getting shot on the way to school. In numerous areas, fear of the police is just as great as fear of the gangs. These children aren’t crossing so they can pursue the “American Dream”, they’re just trying to find a safe place to live.
I understand and acknowledge the argument that there is poverty and violence in the U.S. as well, that we don’t have the money or time to deal with those that aren’t even citizens of this country. But who says we can’t deal with both simultaneously. Why can’t we treat all humans humanely? Is it really fair to say that it is more okay for 42,000 children (and probably more) to live every day in fear simply because they aren’t a citizen of a particular country?
The fact is that deportations and border security cost this country a significant amount. And based on what these children are willing to sacrifice to make it to the U.S., it seems as if these actions wouldn’t really be much of a deterrent to them. Why not consider spending money on a policy that would benefit all citizens? NAFTA and CAFTA had devastating effects on the countries where they were implemented. They actually spurred much of the mass migration because of their economic consequences. Yet, no one seems to addressing these issues. It just seems to me that instead of shutting out suffering children and pretending we don’t see them, we could implement policies and agreements that benefit their home countries so that they don’t have to choose between a higher life expectancy and being able to grow up with their mom and dad.
I don’t think I could endure in a lifetime what these kids go through at such a young age, and it really breaks my heart that they have no choice but to suffer. We’re all human so why can’t we treat each other with a little bit of humanity?