By Rishi Sharma
TIJUANA – On 26 November, US Border Patrol officers used tear gas against a group of Central American protestors, who arrived at the border as a caravan originating from a hundred miles deep in Central America.
The Pawprint covered the story of this moving caravan on 21 November 2018. The caravan was comprised mostly of Hondurans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorans (and joined by Mexicans). It is a sight that includes asylum-seekers in shabby clothes, no footwear, some of whom are pregnant and some even in diapers.
US President Donald Trump justified the actions of the border police officers saying that “they were being rushed by some very tough people…..[and]…. a number of protestors throwing stones at them.”
Trump added that “three Border Patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt through getting hit with rocks and stones.” While it is true that the so-called peaceful protestors turned violent, there is a huge controversy surrounding the use of more advanced and potentially dangerous weapons in retaliation, bringing up a debate about human rights and economic security.
Children are at further risk as they have a faster respiratory rate and a lower physical resistance to these chemicals than adults. Because of this, they would inhale more of the tear gas quicker than an adult.
Trump has acknowledged this and said, “why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming and it’s going to be formed and they were running up with a child?”
The American Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen added in a statement that “the caravan members are predominately male. It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as “human shields” when they confront law enforcement. They are being put at risk by the caravan organizers as we saw at the Mexico-Guatemala border. This is putting vulnerable people in harms way.”
The American government fears the impact of opening the border as it is a widely-held notion that an influx of immigrants could disrupt America’s cultural weave and its economy. The US allows foreign investors an investor’s visa, which can lead to the reception of a Green Card.
However, the asylum-seekers on the Mexico-US border may not have the means to contribute to the American economy in similar ways; foreign investment funds multiple public companies, giving jobs to many. The same cannot be said for these asylum-seekers. Moreover, their immigration could also cause unemployment rates to surge as they begin occupying jobs.
With many potential problems that might arise with mass immigration from the Central Americas, it appears that the American government does have substantial reasons to maintain the border’s restrictions. However, there is a large number of people that are critical of the decisions and claims of American officials and condone the use of tear gas over the border.
Asylum-seekers are commonly labeled as opportunists, even though many of them have traveled miles in torn footwear, lived in poor shelters, and have received inadequate food supplies. Their conditions imply that they are desperate for a stable asylum and their portrayal as opportunists may not necessarily be true.