The border crisis has been a growing concern for the Democratic Party for the past few years.
Migrant workers, pregnant women and small children originating predominantly from Mexico and countries in Central America are being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at detention centers along the U.S.-Mexico border. PBS News has also cited a sharp increase in African migrants seeking asylum at ports of entry.
They are not being detained for committing any violent crimes, yet they are being held like prisoners. They are simply the latest victims of ongoing demonstrations of hate and bigotry that have not only become increasingly normalized in our society today, but are welcomed by our current administration.
The migrants who traveled across the border illegally were desperately seeking political asylum, or protection from their native countries due to crime, poverty and climate issues.
I attended a protest on July 2, which was coined as a National Day of Action in states across the country. The #CloseTheCamps protests were streamed on social media from many different cities. Here in Minneapolis, we gathered outside of Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office to urge her, and other congressional members from Minnesota, to fight the injustices at the border. Most of them are already doing so.
Small children and babies have been separated from their guardians. They have been made to sleep on concrete floors as well as denied food and kept in cells like convicts. Children have been heard on camera crying of hunger and sadness from being snatched from the people they love and trust the most. Many Americans would like to send blankets and toothbrushes to the kids, but their donations have been intercepted by border patrol agents who consider toothbrushes to be “contraband.”
Recently, U.S. Congressional members toured a facility in Clint, Texas. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) spoke of evidence of abuse in detention facilities, including spoiled food, dangerous overcrowding and overall unsanitary living conditions. According to NBC News, approximately seven children have reportedly passed away in border custody since last year due to the germ-ridden conditions that have resulted in a head lice outbreak and other health issues.
The point I want to make is how necessary it is for Black Americans to stay engaged and aware of what is happening. Although we are citizens on paper, we could easily be the targets of such separation. We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the divisive us vs. them narrative the president and his administration are encouraging their base to act. We are also seen as “them.” The harsh reality that I am sure we all learned at some point as small children, is that we unfortunately do not live equally as one nation. It is not for a lack of trying. We have simply settled into a place where we naturally co-exist as multiple subcultures living with completely different versions of what the “American Dream” looks like.
It is disturbing to see how low people with power will go to maintain their positions at the top of the social and economic hierarchy. So I say it is wise for us to become allies of the other marginalized groups in this country, even if we do not feel that support is reciprocated. This is about setting a standard for what we will and will not accept in this country, no matter who it is directed towards.
If you want to mobilize against the abuse and inhumane conditions at the border, but do not know where to start, the first step is to contact your members of Congress and demand that they push to reunite the small children with their families who are legally on American soil, or that they be returned home safely.
Although there are some people who do flee to the U.S. to escape their own crimes, this isn’t about protecting the United States from so-called rapists and gang members, as the president claims. Black men have often been labeled these offensive terms too. This is about traumatizing and torturing those deemed as outsiders. We as Black people have been living as outsiders in this country for centuries, so we should know how isolating it can be. This issue is not a they issue. It is a we issue, and we must stand against this violent treatment.