The migrant caravan has brought out the worst in America

Ben Borrok, Senior Writer

While media and politicians were focused on a migrant caravan from Central America during the week leading up to the election, all the discourse seemed to stop once Election Day passed. U.S. President Donald Trump did not tweet about the group of asylum seekers that were supposedly “imminent threats to our national security” until Nov. 25 — over two weeks after the Nov. 6 election. It was an obvious mobilization tactic that played on hateful stereotypes held by much of Trump’s white voter base. Though the migrants had been forgotten by the news cycle, the caravan has continued its route toward the U.S. border. They are now waiting in limbo in Tijuana as the worst of American anti-immigration sentiments are on display.

Under American law, it is legal to approach the border and apply for asylum. It is a practice held by most countries in order to protect vulnerable populations and provide a path to safety from war and other crises. When Trump began tweeting about the caravan again this past weekend and instructed border police to shut the border, it was an unprecedented switch in U.S. policy. Trump justifies this move as he would any other despicable act he committed in the past: with lies. His words stoke the same energy in his supporters, their hate feeding off of his claims, as he declared the migrants to be criminals, gang members and terrorists. There is no basis to his claims but it doesn’t matter, because it grants racist and prejudiced Americans a cover for their ugly behavior. It is for this reason that hate crimes have substantially increased in recent years. The result of all this is that the desperate migrants are victims of pain yet again.

The images that have surfaced from the Tijuana-U.S. border are horrifying, but unfortunately not surprising. They depict a mother attempting to avoid tear gas canisters thrown by U.S. agents and children crying and choking as a result. These images have come to represent what America has become — no longer the land of opportunity, but an exclusive club where a certain demographic holds all the power. Conservative pundits like Tomi Lahren posted the images on Twitter, declaring the tear gassing the “highlight of her week,” displaying a clear lack of morality and a misunderstanding of our own laws.

The migrants aren’t coming to America to terrorize us. It is nonsense to claim that people would walk over a thousand miles with little food and belongings, traverse through rough terrain, leave behind family and friends, all to hurt us. We so often forget that there is a world outside of our border, another symptom of our increasing isolationist governmental tactics. The failure of governments in Central America, which is partially the fault of the United States, coupled with increased violence and economic instability has given these people no option but to search for a better alternative.

Though we have done nothing as of late to deserve the title of “better alternative,” America still represents a beacon of hope for so many across the world. We have always been a nation of immigrants and we have a duty to protect those who are vulnerable to the dangers of the world because we have declared ourselves the world’s policeman. We cannot suddenly close our doors on the world because of racist lies. Asylum is needed for migrants, and we need to do better when it comes to treating other populations with respect.

It doesn’t seem likely that many of the migrants will make it into America, but hopefully a better, more moral nation can step in to alleviate the stress the migrants have suffered.

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