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About a week ago, the United States government used tear gas to “defend” the U.S.-Mexico border from the migrant caravan. This action has confirmed fears of immigrants across the country that they are not wanted, including members of the Colorado State University community. Our government must stop sending the message that searching for a better life makes you a criminal.
According to BBC News and other news sources, the caravan consists of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, at least 5,000 of whom intend to seek asylum in the United States.
According to the American Immigration Council, political asylum is “a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a ‘refugee.’” This means that individuals seeking asylum do so to avoid the dangers in their native countries.
Those in the caravan want to come to the United States because they believe our nation can provide them with the most basic necessities that many of us take for granted every day, such as safety and quality of life.
But this story is not the one Donald Trump wants us to hear. The president has been denouncing the caravan for weeks now, tweeting that “Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries…they are NOT coming to the USA.”
The people in this caravan don’t have the motivation of criminals- they have the motivation of people in a fight for their lives.
Throughout his presidency, Trump has made a hobby out of blindly demonizing immigrants.
In a nation where the president puts immigrant children in cages, advocates for building a wall to keep them out and proudly names himself a combatant of “illegal” immigrants wherever he goes, it should come as no shock that an encounter such as this one began with violence.
The president needs to recognize the impact that his combatant nationalistic views have on real people.
To make it to the border, those in the migrant caravan traveled 2,500 miles. For reference, that distance is longer than the Appalachian Trail —which only 20 percent of its hikers complete.
To me, this makes the migrants’ necessity to flee home all the more valid. Those in the caravan did not have the option to stop. For many, the decision to press on or turn around was one of life or death.
Known as the the Northern Triangle, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador rank among the most violent countries not at war in the world, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
The people in this caravan don’t have the motivation of criminals; they have the motivation of people in a fight for their lives.
Despite all of this, they arrived at the U.S. border. When they did, they were met with violence.
It is true someone from the crowd threw rocks at officials.
It is also true, according to the New York Times, that the notoriously inhumane Nigerian Army has since used Trump’s words to defend killing 40 individuals and wounding 100 after rocks were thrown during a protest.
Trump did not advise the Nigerian Army to do this, but his ideology condoned it. No matter the context, the thoughtless, hate-condoning words and actions from our president have to stop.
CSU is a home to both documented and undocumented immigrants. They are our friends, professors and neighbors. How can we, valuing these people in our own communities, allow the maltreatment of others in the same situation?
President Trump sees migrants seeking asylum as dangerous, ready to storm the border as “stone cold criminals.”
We must make it clear that we do not support his actions. If Trump wants to represent his citizens, he must stop demonizing people who simply want a better life.
Abby Vander Graaff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at @abbym_vg