When Will Enough Be Enough?

Images of human beings trapped behind barbed wire fences with hopeless expressions on their faces are something you would hope to only see in history books. We would hope that such pictures would exclusively be of past tragedies like the Holocaust, things of the past from which we are supposed to have learned. You would not expect to see such a scene in today’s newspapers--but this is exactly what we are seeing. There is no hiding it, no ignoring it, and no pretending that it is just a blip in the news. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So what do six pictures say?

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As of April 1st, these people, crammed like animals into a cage under the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El Paso, Texas have disappeared. After a month of using those cages to detain human beings, all that is left is dirt and trash. And we are left wonder who were they, what did they want, and why were they treated like this?

Officials with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) claim that they had no room for these people in their regular detention centers. They are apparently “on track to apprehend a hundred thousand migrants this month, the most in 10 years.” Since the midterms and President Trump’s insistence on claiming a “National Emergency at our border,” his imaginary crisis has created a real panic. People from all over are rushing to get through the borders, through the bureaucracy of the system, and safely in America before Donald Trump can actually close the border and before their chance at a better life goes out the window. As just a reminder of common sense, these are NOT dangerous people as our president would have us believe. They are human beings who have valid and life or death reasons to leave behind their homes and their entire lives to come to our country. There are concerns that an influx of asylum seekers could overwhelm the Border control which might have to continue to take actions like this. They may even have to release these people into the streets of Mexico, effectively leaving already vulnerable people homeless to fend for themselves in a strange country.

 

On March 28th, journalists with VICE news went to El Paso and were able to interview some of the detainees (through the fence and barbed wire, of course). They said they had been under the bridge for four or five days and only had bread to eat (one woman held up a piece of bread in a plastic bag as proof). One young man warned the journalists that if they talked to them, then they would have to stay for 15 more days. Everyone was clinging to their foil blankets, many lying or sitting in huddled groups.

 

The VICE journalist insinuated that all of this is really just a publicity stunt on behalf of the Trump administration to create fear focused on the border. On March 28th the Department of Homeland Security requested more fund from Congress to deal with all of the asylum seekers detained at the border and deport children more quickly. His evidence for this theory is that CBP usually does not allow for their activities to be filmed, but in the case of the cage under the El Paso Del Norte bridge, they have all but encouraged it. Beto O’Rourke organized a rally in El Paso on the 28th to draw attention to the broader issues at the border and more specifically to the people being held in cages in plain sight. He joined VICE news under the bridge to talk to the CBP agents. O’Rourke himself said that they way in which these people were being put on display “invites the question, are we trying to send a message by the way that we are warehousing people at their most desperate moment?”

 

It goes without saying that all of this is abhorrent. It begs the question: where is American going? These images are hauntingly reminiscent of our incomprehensible injustice of the past, things that should be decades behind us and forever receding. Yet, this is a modern reality in a country built by asylum-seeking immigrants that preaches life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL. We need to ask ourselves if this is something we stand for, and if it isn’t, ask what we can do to fix this. Even if you are someone who is against immigration, we should all be against treating fellow human beings worse than animals. Take a good long look at our reality and what it could mean for our future, and then take action with your VOTE.