Here’s a quick round-up of some facts from the week’s news: how many undocumented immigrants are crossing the border, who they really are, why they are coming, and what our response should be.
The total number of immigrants crossing the border is down. Yeah, that’s right, and so important that I will repeat it: the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border is down, and that continues a decades-long trend. Even if 7,000 more arrived in a caravan, that wouldn’t get numbers back up to the levels of previous years. (And that’s not going to happen, because the caravan numbers are dwindling as people walk north, which has also happened in all previous caravans over the years.)
More families are coming. While total numbers of border crossers are down, one number is up: the number of families from Central America. Why? The families tell “stories of torture, gang recruitment, abusive spouses, extortionists and crooked police.” The murder rates in Honduras and El Salvador are among the highest in the world, so it makes sense that families are fleeing. If gangs ran your town and the police force, too, wouldn’t you leave?
Families fleeing violence deserve help, not threats and jails. That’s what asylum is for.
“Parents and children who are running for their lives are not an imminent threat to the United States of America, nor are they an army hell-bent on invasion. The last caravan, which Trump also baselessly insisted was a danger to our nation, dissipated to a fifth of its original size by the time it arrived at the southern border.
“Those who do decide to continue the rest of the more than 1,000-mile journey will seek asylum, which is legal under U.S. and international law. Our nation’s national security professionals will vet and assess their claims, because we have a system in place that allows us to stay safe while welcoming those who want to build a better life.”
When asylum seekers come to a U.S. border checkpoint, they are turned away and not allowed to state their claim. That has been going on since early this year. Here’s what happens when asylum seekers try to apply at a border checkpoint:
“I have been two days here at the bridge. When we arrived, we were told to wait but they haven’t given us any information of how long we’ll have to wait,” the father said. He and his teenage son fled gang violence in their hometown of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, seven months ago, he said.’…
“[The administration] is considering a temporary ban on all migrants from the Central American region entering the US, citing national security, according to the New York Times report, a move that advocacy and migrant rights groups say would be immediately challenged in court.
“This is straight-up a Latino ban,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of the advocacy group Families Belong Together, adding: “The Trump administration and the Republican party have become the party of cruelty to families … This goes against our values as Americans.”
We do not need to send thousands of soldiers to the border. We need more immigration judges, so that people do not have to wait for years to get a hearing. We need humanitarian aid, to feed hungry parents and children, and to provide medical care for people who have been walking, sometimes barefoot, for weeks and months, or who have been waiting at the border for someone to listen to their asylum plea. We need shelter and care, not gigantic tent city jails swelling the profits of private prison corporations.
We need to do our best as a country—not our worst.