Over the past week, the Trump administration has made good on its promise to deter and punish anyone who attempts to cross the southern border illegally. Images of migrant families attempting to cross from Tijuana, Mexico into California facing hostile military personnel and tear gas have surfaced all over the internet. The President defends these actions by saying that the migrants are trying to enter the country illegally, and that many of them are criminals and pose a danger to the American people. Do these statements justify this use of force? Are there any alternatives to dealing with this number of migrants?   

Prof. Fernando Rosenberg (HISP) 

First, I find it necessary to explain again and again that people fleeing poverty and violence are escaping conditions that are in part a consequence of the United States influence: the legacy of military control of social life that was instituted through U.S. interventions, the gang wars fueled by drugs consumed in the U.S. and its failed ‘war on drugs’ policy, the traffic of weapons that benefit U.S. manufacturers, the impoverishment of countryside as people are pushed away from the land by corporate agribusiness, mining, and energy projects fueling the ‘global economy.’

Second, I urge everyone to pay attention to a display of violence that goes beyond the logic of ‘law enforcement,’ beyond the rationale of ‘defending our borders.’ That is, the violence inflicted (now by militarized force, now by abandonment and neglect) upon people who are trying not to cross illegally but instead to apply, at an official point of entry, for asylum. This violence--the gassing of a defenseless population--deploys a theater of cruelty to be circulated through media-images in the U.S. It is directed to other migrants around the world, but also perhaps a warning to any other grass-root movement that might claim the streets in this country.

Prof. Fernando Rosenberg is the chair of the Romance Studies department. 

Ravi Simon ‘19

Quality of life around the world is dominated by the injustice of the lottery of birth. Undocumented immigrants leave their families and homes to travel hundreds or thousands of miles in search of decent work and safety. They are hardly different from the Irish, Italian, or Jewish immigrants which flooded the United States through Ellis Island in the early 20th century. One difference, however, is that they are fleeing conditions which have been exacerbated by American influence. Ill conceived interventions, American support for illiberal regimes, and a history of economic exploitation have created deplorable conditions in parts of Central America. The United States owes a debt to these migrants. Regardless, implementing policies aimed at slowing the processing of asylum applications, separating families, and firing tear gas at children are simply cruel. In a nation of immigrants, these policies reflect the sort of xenophobia that has become commonplace under the Trump administration.

Ravi Simon ‘19 is the President of Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society and a staff writer for the Justice. 

Rachel Lededer ‘19

The president’s rhetoric concerning members of the migrant caravan is deeply offensive and dehumanizing. Those in the caravan are fleeing violence and poverty and seeking a more stable living situation for themselves and their families. They have travelled extreme lengths to arrive at the border, are incredibly resilient, and have gone through hardship that most of those painting them with broad strokes as “criminals” cannot even begin to comprehend. They have the right to enter the United States and go through the asylum application process, and there should be legal assistance offered to them to help them do so. It is disgusting that the United States would tear gas those at the border and expend so many resources on keeping people out when our country has the capacity to take them in and would be strengthened by their presence.

Rachel Lededer ‘19 is co-president of Brandeis STAND. 

Nia Lyn ’19

Over the past week, social media has been flooded with the heartbreaking image of Honduran migrant Maria Lila Meza Castro and her children being assaulted with tear gas at the United States border. President Trump’s claim that all of those seeking entrance to the United States are criminals is solely based on racism and xenophobia. On March 30, The New York Times revealed that since 1980 the immigrant population has increased 130 percent while the crime rate has seen a 36 percent decrease — busting the myth of the criminal immigrant. Similarly, the use of unnecessary force does nothing to combat the amount of “illegal” immigration into the U.S., it only pleases the ego of the right-wing racists that blame immigrants for their own shortcomings. The only way to deal with the number of individuals seeking entry to the U.S. would be to make the immigration process more accessible, as it stands it takes months to years to become a legal U.S. citizen. This can deter individuals from applying to the process entirely, thus leading to the influx of individuals seeking to enter the country without proper documentation. 

Nia Lyn ‘19 is an Associate Editor for the Justice.