Sammy Dereje '21
The United States’ southern border has long been a point of contention. The multiple layers of complexity afforded to the situation make it easy for many people to say they disagree with each other, even if they agree in principle. But, while we have the luxury to sit around and discuss this issue, thousands and thousands of people are suffering.
One of the most egregious recent events occurring along the southern border involved the separation of children from their parents upon arrival in the United States. While this separation is being resolved by a task force now, there’s no telling how the trauma of these experiences will affect young migrants. Videos of children being afraid of their parents or not wanting to interact with them after being reunited is truly heartbreaking. Regardless of which side of this issue you fall on, I hope everyone can realize that no child should ever have to be subjugated to the treatment that migrant children face right now.
Upwards of 600 children have been stuffed into a room meant for 32, separated by only plastic walls just a few weeks ago. Additionally, Custom and Border Protection’s main processing center for migrant children is currently holding about 4,100 migrants: it’s meant to hold just 250 people under the CDC’s guidelines. These conditions are unacceptable, and something needs to be done. This “something,” however, should not be a blanket statement to close the borders and simply send all migrants back to their country of origin. That solves nothing. Your status as a United States citizen or resident of whatever country does not absolve you of any responsibility towards issues that may not directly affect you. What I mean by this is we cannot allow ourselves to wipe our hands clean and push the southern border off as somebody else’s problem. We cannot tell migrants that their problems are not of our concern; their problems, directly or indirectly, should be treated as if they were ours.
As more and more migrants find their way to the United States’ southern border, it’s becoming increasingly imperative that some action is taken. Whether that action be on the side of the United States, its southern neighbors, or both, the people searching for a better and safer life deserve more. This past March saw U.S. agents encounter a record high of 18,663 unaccompanied minors. Clearly, stripping aid from these southern countries and saying “Don’t come” is not working. Currently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is trying to address some more severe overcrowding by moving unaccompanied minors to larger areas while they work to release them to “sponsors” that tend to be family or close relatives in the United States.
We must look to address this border crisis from a multilateral perspective, giving voices to those who are fleeing their homes and offering solutions or aid to confront this world problem. Just as Rome was not built in a day, we can’t expect a quick fix. It will take time. However, we can’t expect the necessary commitment required of those in charge to find a resolution.