COLUMN: U.S. actions at the border are cruel and inexcusable

The border between the United States and Mexico has been in a state of chaos. Migrant caravans seeking asylum in the U.S. are being forced to wait in Mexico before they can even begin applying for asylum.

America’s actions in this situation are vile and despicable. Words cannot describe how utterly disgusting this is. As an American, I feel an immense shame.

The Trump administration has introduced changes such as “metering,” which limits how many individuals can apply for asylum each day. A federal judge ruled that migrants must be considered for asylum regardless of how they gained entry to the U.S., despite Trump’s efforts to force asylum seekers to enter through “ports of entry.”

Border agents used tear gas Sunday to regain control after some migrants threw stones at the agents. The gas did not only affect those individuals throwing stones, though.

Children were present, although this did not seem to stop the border patrol. Chilling images have circulated on the internet of young children crying and in pain.

It has become easy to blame our president. And he is no doubt to blame. But he is not alone in his guilt.

The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted Monday, “When we look at Auschwitz we see the end of the process. It’s important to remember that the Holocaust actually did not start from gas chambers. This hatred gradually developed from words, stereotypes & prejudice through legal exclusion, dehumanisation & escalating violence.”

We cannot be complicit. We cannot feel rage as we read headlines, only to turn around and let this roll off of our backs. News cycles are fast. Our attention spans are short. Forgetting the truth is easy. Reality is not.

We must be calling our representatives and donating to legal funds. We must calmly have the difficult conversations we do not want to have. Our circles make up the public opinion. We cannot shy away from talking about it. We must help those who need it to open their eyes and their hearts. We are not exempt. We must look at ourselves honestly.

Attitudes add up. One person’s quiet racism contributes to a culture that allows this to happen, that excuses it or celebrates it.

If you tell me you think people should take care of themselves, I want you to look at your life and really think about how much taking care of yourself you’ve had to do. I want you to think about how much society has taken care of you.

I want you to think about what taking care of yourself means to a Honduran migrant seeking asylum. She has fled her home and come all the way to the U.S. border seeking safety because months of waiting and paperwork and hoops to jump through and the xenophobia that will greet her in the U.S. are better than what she’s leaving behind.

She could not be doing more to take care of herself.

The Statue of Liberty reads,

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

America should welcome refugees with open arms.

If you call yourself a patriot, but think sending away migrants is the right thing to do, you are not a patriot.

If you are xenophobic, racist and prejudiced under the guise of patriotism, you undermine all that America stands for.

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