Americans have nothing to fear from the migrant caravan


Graphic by Amanda Huang

Annika Agni, Staff Writer

The migrant caravan started with a group of people traveling together from Honduras, and they gradually gained more members from El Salvador and Guatemala. They now have more than 7,000 members, and have traveled more than 2,500 miles. They say they are fleeing poverty, violence, and persecution, and most of them are seeking asylum. As Americans, we should aid the migrants, instead of fearing them.

President Trump has called the migrant caravan “invaders” and has used them in a fear-mongering attempt to get people to vote. Right before the midterm elections, he told voters, “If you don’t want America to be overrun by masses of illegal aliens and giant caravans, you’d better vote Republican.” He also increased the number of troops at the border, which cost an estimated $50 million from this instance alone. President Trump also tried to ban migrants who cross illegally from seeking asylum, however, this was blocked by a federal judge because under both international and U.S. law, anybody who is fleeing from serious persecution has the right to ask for asylum, even it they don’t enter legally.

The authorities at the legal borders have been limiting the number of migrants allowed to cross and seek asylum to 40-100 a day at ports of entry, which is why many have tried to cross the border illegally. On Nov. 25, a group of migrants neared the border between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California. This started as a planned peaceful march to request asylum and protest the conditions of their shelters, and then the group broke apart and some migrants pushed up against the fence at the border.

At that point, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents fired tear gas at the crowds, justifying the action with a statement that it was in retaliation to aggressive men who rushed at the border and that four agents were hit by rocks. Since it was windy that day, the tear gas drifted half a mile, affecting women and children who were not even involved. Tear gas is banned on the battlefield by almost every country in the world, including America. Federal authorities and police, however, are allowed to use it for riot-control. There are better ways of controlling crowds, and there certainly are ways of  retaliating that would not have ended up hurting innocent women and children, including toddlers and babies.

It’s important to keep in mind that these migrants aren’t illegal aliens that pose a threat to America. Most of them just want to seek asylum, which is a right protected by American and international law, and is by no means a crime. Instead of firing chemical weapons at mostly unarmed migrants and hurting innocent children in the process, America needs to do better and help those in need. Our country should be a safe haven to those seeking refuge and fleeing persecution.

We take it for granted that we weren’t born in a country where violence is rampant, but not everyone has that luxury. Some constantly fear for their lives, for their families, for their safety. If we were in their places, wouldn’t we also leave for a chance at  a better future? We cannot forget that they have walked hundreds of miles just for a shot at a safer life for themselves and their families. To them, America is the land of hope and opportunities, and we must not let them down.