The Parthenon

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EDITORIAL: ‘Rock-Throwers’ and toddlers–the complex situation at the border


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The situation at the border is one of the most tragic, unsettling, confusing and difficult challenges our country has faced in a long time. We have heard of the immigrant caravan, comprised of around 5,000 migrants fleeing poverty and in search of better lives in the United States.

Passions escalated on Sunday when migrants attempted to rush the border illegally, prompting  the use of tear gas on the crowds, which included rock throwers and barefooted children. This is more complex than any side can state.

“I think it’s so unprecedented that everyone is hanging their own fears and political agendas on the caravan,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that studies immigration. “You can call it scary, you can call it hopeful, you can call it a sign of human misery. You can hang whatever angle you want to on it.”

We have heard claims with no evidence that there are criminals in the caravan, with intent to harm the nation’s interests. We have heard conspiracies that the caravan is being funded by democratic billionaires looking to destroy democracy. And there have been flat out lies all around about the nature of the caravan and its purposes.

The migrants are seeking asylum in the United States, which is a legal form of immigration. But the migrants who, for whatever reason, whether out of anger or just pure desperation, only seem to escalate the fears that many on the political right have about immigrants, also leading some seeking asylum to doubt their chances of entering legally. 

“What happened yesterday harms all of us,” Oscar Leonel Mina, a 22-year-old father from San Salvador, said of Sunday’s border clash.

We have to refrain from generalizing. Of these thousands of people, there are mothers who desperately want a better life for their children. There are children being carried to strange lands because their homes are no longer safe. There are husbands and fathers trying everything to protect their families. In these issues of desperation, we must think we do the same thing for our families, if in their shoes.

But on the other hand, there really just may be those who intend to do harm. But surely we can’t punish the thousands who truly are searching out a better life in our country for the possible few who may not exactly be saints. 

We just have to do better. We have to figure out a system that protects and provides for the least of these, because they are people. Humans. Yes, our national security must be protected, but not at the cost of tear gassing babies. 

It’s a complex matter with complex solutions, so let’s stop jumping to conclusions.  Be thoughtful.

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