Drowned migrants return to El Salvador for burial

Candles are placed next to the border fence that separates Mexico from the United States in memory of migrants who have died during their journey toward the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, late Saturday. Emilio Espejel/AP

For those who support President Trump’s regressive immigration policy, I beg of you to consider the difference between economic and forced migrants.

Simply put, an economic migrant moves for broader job opportunities, and a forced migrant lives in such a place of conflict that she is compelled to flee no matter the cost.

Many migrants who have perished crossing the U.S.-Mexico border or who languish in U.S. detention centers have fled domestic, state-sponsored and gang violence from some of the world’s deadliest countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, where perpetrators enjoy impunity, and social services are nonexistent.

These migrants have a right to apply for asylum and be treated with dignity as prescribed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but Trump frames such people as devilishly intent on stealing American white-collar jobs. (Though not even pure economic migrants are doing this, and neither should they be denied their rights and respect.)

We must be smarter. We, in our privileged lives, cannot judge the actions of mothers and children escaping abuse or gang recruitment.

We say "never again” in reference to an unprotected minority mercilessly scapegoated, rounded up in camps, ignored and exterminated during the Holocaust. Let’s harness that compassion and intent in acting now.

Regardless of the illegality of migrants crossing the border, international human rights law should supersede any national law that codifies racism and normalizes the malnourishment of children.

History will judge those of you who still support Trump very poorly indeed.

 


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