Refugees Who Once Faced Death at Home now Face Tear Gas at U.S. Border
By Alia Hubey
According to CBS News, more than 6,000 migrants are camping outside of a sports complex in Tijuana, Mexico hoping to seek asylum in the United States. Due to overcrowding of the camp and unsanitary living conditions, migrants in Tijuana are being treated for serious health issues. Fox News reports 2,267 migrants are experiencing cases of tuberculosis, chickenpox, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, lice, various skin diseases, and respiratory infections.
The Trump Administration exercised its “zero-tolerance” policy at the U.S. border by firing tear gas at the caravan. Children are being separated from their parents because of harsh rules on border crossings without authorization. According to The Washington Post, over 2,000 children have been sent to detention centers as their parents are taken into custody for attempting to cross illegally.
The Trump Administration fails to acknowledge that these families are fleeing for the sake of saving their lives. Hardships faced in their homelands include economic insecurity and low employment. Intense violence, forced recruitment into criminal gangs, civil wars, police brutality, government corruption, and extortion fees are some examples of the reality of life in some Central American countries. Desperate migrants are prepared for any violent reactions made by the U.S. government. Their past experiences have made them more inclined to enter America regardless of the dangers or illegality of doing so.
The Washington Post states “zero-tolerance” policymakers purposely implemented harsher rules and longer legal processes to prevent migrants from coming to the American borders. Currently, fewer than 100 asylum applications are being processed per day at the San Ysidro port of entry between San Diego and Tijuana. Nevertheless, the longer the process takes, the more violent outbreaks will occur, and the more aggravated the migrants will become.
Frustrated with the slow process and widespread diseases, asylum seekers erupted into violent protests throughout camps and border crossing points. Mexican police tried to calm the riots, but migrants pushed passed the officials and stormed the San Ysidro border. Mexico’s interior ministry gave reports to CBS News that around 500 migrants attempted to violently cross the American border. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, made a statement to Fox News that some migrants attempted to breach the border through a small hole in the fence. Other authorities claim migrants even threw rocks at U.S. border patrol, who responded by firing several rounds of tear gas in self-defense.
In a talk with Fox News, U.S. Border Patrol Chief, Carla Provost, defended her decision to release the tear gas as a defense tactic to protect agents from the “assaultive migrants” who were threw rocks and bottles. She stated, “with that assaultive nature it was imperative that we disperse them from the area.” In a CBS News report, one migrant gave her account of what occurred during the tear gas strikes, stating that “there were many children who fainted” while other children choked on the gas. Due to the outbreaks, border agents then closed the port of entry for several hours in both directions for security and public safety reasons.
Mexican authorities state they will arrest and deport anyone who tries to enter the U.S. illegally. So far, they have arrested 39 migrants for disruption of peace charges and deported another 98. Since the arrival of the first caravans in October, the Mexican government has deported nearly 11,000 Central Americans.
The harsh actions of U.S. Border Patrol do not scare migrants any more than returning home does. The Washington Post interviewed a woman about her understandings of Trump’s polices, to which she responded “in my country, the only thing that awaits me is death.” She stated that Trump’s policies would not change her mind about trying to cross the border. Several other interviews with detained and deported migrants say they will attempt to make the crossing until they are successful.