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Thousands of Central Americans, mostly from Honduras and Guatemala, have embarked on a journey of thousands of miles, presumably to seek asylum in America. Many of these migrants are fleeing gang violence and extreme poverty. Although the migrants are most likely planning to ask for refugee status in a completely legal process, they have faced major opposition, from tear gas attacks to portrayal in the media as criminals. Trump also has announced that he plans to prevent them from entering the United States using military force.
Type One asked members of two Pine Crest political clubs, Teenage Republicans and Young Democrats, to comment on how asylum seekers should be dealt with in the context of the migrant caravan. Below are their opposing opinions.
Teenage Republicans’ Club Opinion
By Julian Daszkal ’19
Most conservatives limit their philosophy on immigration to “legal immigration is good and illegal immigration is bad.” However, before applying a haphazard solution, one must ask why so many individuals choose to cross the border illegally rather than seeking asylum at a designated port of entry. At a port of entry, said asylum seeker could make known their claim of fear of persecution described under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and then go through the subsequent process. This process sounds simple enough, so why wouldn’t asylum seekers follow it? The answer is clear: the current state of immigration and border control is one that does not abide by the law and does not consider the psychological, emotional, and physical consequences of its actions, let alone the economic consequences.
The Trump administration has unlawfully deported asylees as they wait for their credible fear interviews and court hearings. The government has also left men, women, and children waiting months at a time in inhumane conditions in ICE detention centers, subject to malnourishment, labor, and family separation. The current response is to arm the border against a migrant caravan. Demonizing individuals seeking an escape from persecution is a step in the wrong direction. The response should be to understand these individuals’ claims of persecution and put them through a lawful system with due process, perhaps by sending lawyers to the border as opposed to troops. Being a conservative does not mean being against immigration. Being a conservative means adhering to the rule of law set out by a democratic process. Breaking those rules goes against conservative thought.
Young Democrats’ Club Opinion
By Alexander Wilentz ’21
While President Trump has claimed that the caravan contains criminals, in reality, most migrants are fleeing unsafe conditions in their home nations and are legally seeking asylum. One migrant, 30-year-old Samuel García, came to the United States with his wife and 5-year-old son. He claims to want “a better future for [his] son, in a place that’s safe.” Unfortunately for García and thousands of other migrants, the asylum process has become extremely difficult. Migrants are forced to wait for months in suboptimal conditions before they can petition for asylum. Many give up and are sent home, while others resort to crossing the border illegally. I do not at all condone illegal immigration, but, by creating a pathway for legal asylum, we can simultaneously help those in need and give migrants another option for immigrating legally. As of now, it is nearly impossible for Central American migrants to seek asylum in the United States. This situation desperately needs remedying.
The migrant caravan and the asylum process are far bigger than party politics. The caravan is about human rights and how America responds to the fear of the unknown that is endemic to this day and age. How politicians handle the asylum seekers, whether by forcing them out of the country or processing their claims, will set a precedent for decades to come.
Regardless of how the country decides to solve the problems in the asylum system, there are myriad ways to be part of the decision making. For one, if students are unable to vote, they can call their local politicians or attend protests. The most important thing Pine Crest students can do for the migrants approaching America is to become politically involved and share their opinion, no matter their stance.
Sources: Washington Post, USA Today, Office of the Historian, The Guardian, ACLU, New York Times, USA.gov
Photo Source: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr