Late November, members of the migrant caravan arrived at Tijuana, deciding to peacefully march outside the San Ysidro point of entry to the United States. However, they were met with tear gas and rubber bullets – adults covered their eyes while teens, barely able to see, cried alongside toddlers and infants, looking for their parents in the crowd. Most haven’t stepped a foot inside US territory, yet Trump authorized the use of tear gas to dull their senses to paint a completely different, generalized picture of their supposed criminality. The problem isn’t the fact the migrant caravan is occurring. The real problem is how the Trump Administration and Mexico are treating the Migrant Caravan.
Tear gassing is not only inhumane, but it is worrisome. The presence of the military at the border allows for the U.S to continue oppressing people who are impoverished, hungry, and facing disease, taking advantage of the high stake tension in the USA to further their agenda in regards to immigration. Trump is using the caravan to paint a very specific picture: immigrants are bad.
This isn’t new. But it’s the first time there are so many eyes watching. And for the first time, it’s targeted largely to a group of people who mount in the thousands, all being Latinos from largely troubled countries in Latin America where poverty, hunger, and lack of education, have prompted these emigrants to join the caravan in the first place. They left because the situation is so unbearable that they would rather join a country where many, including the President, want them out even before they have ever stepped on US soil.
One of the members of the caravan was a father with a young girl who was paralyzed when she was three years old. Now six, the father has traveled from Honduras, in sandals, with his daughter in a stroller. The stories don’t end there. Some of the first people to arrive from the Caravan identified as LGBTQ+ and joined the caravan in hopes that their sexuality and gender wouldn’t bar them from jobs, housing, and hate crimes. A pregnant mother walked with seven of her children on foot to the United States. All of these people are waiting for their case to be processed – which could be months – while the waiting list continues getting longer and longer as more people arrive. No more than one hundred asylum cases are processed a day where thousands of people are waiting.
The implications of using tear gas and rubber bullets during a peaceful march are traumatic for all parties involved, especially children. The traumatic experience for children can last for a lifetime and continue for generations, which can cause trouble with assimilation, PTSD, and anxiety. History has largely treated killing brown bodies as irrelevant to the law, causing incidents such as these to largely go unseen to the public eye because of one’s immigration status and skin color. Because the migrants are not privileged or white, their deaths and treatment are and—will continue to be unless we as a community choose to step up and acknowledge the way the law perpetuates systematic racism—considered normal. Considered acceptable.
The migrant caravan is composed of real people with real reasons to be where they are and with the real right to live.