The New York Times ran a story today that covered the various measures the U.S. government has taken to prevent people from entering the country via the U.S.-Mexico border. The story is full of tough talk about stopping illegal immigrants, and reveals how the U.S. government has not gained perspective that it is actual human beings they’re dealing with. Indeed, we’re treating illegal immigrants worse than ever.
Strategies used to deal with people entering the country illegally consist of two old and one new approaches:
– pouring tons of money into erecting barriers and hiring border patrol agents
– forcing people to take dangerous routes and risk death to gain entry to the U.S.
– imposing prison time on everyone, including first-time offenders.
Several migrants waiting their chance in San Luis cursed under their breath in Spanish when asked about the soldiers and beefed-up patrols. Some are indignant that the United States would treat them like enemies or criminals.
“It’s harder and harder, and that’s the reason why people are dying in the desert,” said Miguel Pérez, a 24-year-old migrant from Guerrero State. “It makes no sense.”
Imagine-people who are fighting for their survival and the survival of their families resent being treated like criminals. Truly, it boggles the mind. Can’t the people understand that the U.S. considers them worthless? Worthless people don’t have a right to fight to survive.
What is especially galling, given our law-and-order mentality, is the way these cases are handled in court:
Once in court, the judge conducted an unusual mass hearing in which all the migrants — represented by a single lawyer — agreed to waive their right to a trial and pleaded guilty to illegal entry. The judge gave the first-timers 15 days in jail, but he handed out sentences of 120 or 180 days to those who had been deported in the past.
If we would try something new, and focus on providing for each human’s basic needs, instead of on exploiting other countries for fun and profit, we could redefine the “problem” of people entering the U.S. illegally.