Bordering on Inhumanity

Kate Mecke, Contributing Writer

In the midst of today’s current illegal immigration controversy, with its many intricate issues including charged political ties, racial insensitivity, and the seemingly endless perspectives with which to approach this debate, I have found myself conflicted about where I stand. Despite my inability to adopt a stance on this debate, I have formed a sound decision on an ever-pressing issue surrounding illegal immigration and humanitarian aid.

Recently, organizations and volunteers have been leaving water jugs and canned food in rural desert areas where many illegal immigrants find themselves stranded, hungry, dehydrated, and close to death. These humanitarian efforts attempt to combat the increasing death toll of immigrants attempting to illegally enter the United States. According to ABC News, in just 2012 alone there were 477 immigrant deaths recorded, nearly double the number in 1998.

My approval and admiration for humanitarian groups of this sort are not sentiments shared by everyone. Volunteers have faced legal consequences, such as punitive confrontation by border patrol. Critics of the humanitarian’s work claim that the littering of water jugs and canned food aids criminals by encouraging illegal entry into our country and should be deemed unlawful. While I contest that this humanitarian aid is encouraging immigrants and should be considered criminal, I do empathize with the critics’ frustrations. I recognize the issues undocumented citizens create.

I also acknowledge the importance of separating my frustrations from my beliefs regarding the humane treatment of illegal immigrants. At times, it is crucial to adopt the perspectives of the almost lifeless bodies found in the barren desert surrounding the border. They are mothers, fathers, siblings, and children all fighting for an opportunity for a better life. I am not necessarily arguing that these victims are entitled to or deserving of U.S. citizenship, nor am I contending that we should open our borders. Like many, I am conflicted on where I stand. I do know that these various stances possess little relevance in the matter of humanitarian aid at the border. Despite our diverse perspectives on the issues surrounding illegal immigration, the backlash and intolerance for humanitarian volunteer groups must cease.

The story of Daniel Millis, a member of No More Deaths, one of the forefront organizations that provide humanitarian aid to immigrants in distress, illustrates this inhumanity that exists along our border. In February 2008, Millis found the corpse of a 14-year-old Salvadoran immigrant girl. Just two days later, as he was leaving jugs of water along a migrant trail near where the deceased child was found, he was cited for “littering.” His refusal to pay the ticket earned him the possibility of facing a six-month sentence in prison and a $5,000 fine. While organizations such as No More Deaths repeatedly deal with Border Patrol and critics vandalizing their resources left for immigrants, this experience was especially disheartening.

While our nation will most likely never come to a unanimous agreement regarding immigration policies, I believe we can reach an agreement on the treatment of illegal immigrants. As a nation, I believe we can work together to uphold their rights. No solution lies in attempting to kill off illegal immigrants through starvation and dehydration at the border–this not only contradicts our moral values, but also lacks efficiency and dependability. Let us join together to support and volunteer in defending humanity at the border.

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