Humanitarian crisis shows what we still owe to each other

Our president’s views on the asylum seekers challenge our own views on morality

Dhani Srinivasan, Staff Reporter
Originally published January 15, 2019

Claire Moriarty

Claire Moriarty

In this new era of United States’ politics, divisiveness has surged. Donald Trump has made it acceptable for our country to be full of hate and ugliness by capitalizing on many things including anti-immigrant sentiment. But, what the president calls a ‘border crisis’ is actually a humanitarian crisis that threatens not only the future of our country but, how we define our sense of morality.

The news cycle has recently featured a group of Central Americans moving from as far south as Honduras towards the United States. Who are they? Not ‘migrants’ as most media has taken to calling them, but asylum seekers escaping some of the most dangerous and poverty stricken places in the world. They are not a part of a caravan–this is no circus–but they do travel in a large group to protect themselves from cartels, gang rapes and other horrors.

Many of these people are fleeing situations that we can’t even imagine; of extreme violence, persecution and/or utter lack of economic opportunity. They come to make a better life in the supposed ‘land of opportunity’ but many face insurmountable barriers.

Spanish teacher Nicola Rodriguez’s husband immigrated from Mexico, and obtaining his citizenship was a process she described as extremely difficult and expensive.

“It’s simply not an option for many people. The fact that I’ve gone through it legally does not make me have less compassion for people that don’t have that option,” Rodriguez said.

Donald Trump likes to say that Latino immigrants are constantly “illegally” entering our country. However, only 8% of immigrants are from Central America, according to the Pew Research center and they account for such a large percentage of the undocumented population because many do not have the resources to access impenetrable U.S. citizenship.

There are probably many at Ballard High that do not know that even our school contains undocumented students that fear for their lives and that of their families. One student has said that heightened anti-immigrant sentiment—especially since news of the refugees broke out—has her in fear of deportation. She says that her parents decided to come in order to better the lives of their children and help absolve debt.

It’s not just undocumented people that are afraid of the current administration. If Trump was to roll back birthright citizenship, as he has threatened, it could affect second-generation immigrants and beyond. Even I could have my citizenship revoked because my parents were not official citizens at the time I was born.

We cannot buy into what is going on around us. Even though Trump may use words like “criminals,”“gangs,” and “illegals,”we must remain strong and defend the defenseless. We need to challenge the notion that movement across borders is dangerous and we need to remember that people fleeing violent situations are not inherently violent themselves. We need to maintain compassion because we owe it to each other as humans.