Walking in front of a TV, scrolling on Facebook or turning on NPR, it’s hard to ignore the news of what is going on at the southern border.
Once the Associated Press revealed the conditions for child migrants in government custody near El Paso, Texas, it soon spread like wildfire. The story was all over social media, and some TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy started making their own statements on the issue through plot lines.
The situation showed 60 children in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Posts and photos show individuals lying on the floor, stories of critical medical issues and other problems. Families are being separated, and some children have even died.
As far as the issue of why they are there, it can be argued these individuals are escaping their own home countries for various reasons — jobs, danger, gangs, drugs, trafficking, etc. No matter the reason, it is not our job to judge others for their life stories, but to offer ways to gain immigration status legally and safely. However, many need help to do so.
The actual process of naturalization is possible, but lengthy. In order to become a U.S. citizen, one has to have a permanent resident card for at least five years or three years if you are applying as a spouse of a U.S. citizen. Applicants must also be 18 years old, must be able to read or write basic English, as well as be a person of good moral character.
Next, individuals must go through a 10-step process, which includes a test that assesses their knowledge of the English language and U.S. civics and an interview that determines their eligibility. The fee just to apply for this process is $725.
And it takes time. Last year, the U.S. State Department was reviewing applications from Mexico filed in 1995, according to the Dallas Morning News. That’s for Mexican applicants who are the sons or daughters of U.S. citizens; without a family connection, the wait can be much longer.
Approximately 700,000 people become citizens every year, but it is a selective process, according to the International Rescue Committee. Most people coming to the border don’t have the time, money or other resources to go through the process, or they don’t speak English well enough to understand it or what is happening when they cross the border.
The process is timely and takes patience. We at The Alestle believe there should be more efforts being made to help those at the border go through this process the correct way. The answer is not to put them in cages or treat them as anything less than human. Only improvement and easier access to resources can steer us away from this.
We also realize this issue is not unique to President Trump’s administration — this has been happening for years. But now
The Trump administration has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to execute a series of targeted enforcement actions on migrant families who have illegally immigrated to the U.S. As of July 15, the New York Times reported Border Patrol had arrested 363,300 migrant family members from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala at the border. We understand that this is an issue that needs to be handled, but there has to be a better way.
For 2019, the number of people crossing the border has increased, according to U.S.Customs and Border Protection data. The number of individuals was more than 500,000, which is twice as much as the last five years. Two years previously, the southern border saw the lowest amount of individuals since 1971.
While the current facilities used for holding immigrants at customs were already being used before, they were not intended to hold the amount of immigrants they currently do. With a growing population of migrants seeking asylum and legal immigration proceedings, our facilities should be updated accordingly.
We should open our arms and accept that there are good people want to be here. People grow up and wish to experience the American Dream, as well as a better life for their loved ones. We are lucky to have advanced healthcare, education and the opportunity to get whatever job people wish for. Who are we to deny them of that?
We do understand there is some reason to be cautious because there are also gang members and prositution ring leaders also crossing. In addition to the growing number of individuals crossing the border, there does need to be some sort of screening system, however this is not the way to do this. Most individuals crossing are not dangerous and we should recognize that individuals who fall into these harmful environments are also in America already.
Treating individuals like animals is not the answer, and, as Americans, we are above that. We should want to help these individuals, and we should feel enraged about the inhumane conditions and the costly process. Instead of pointing fingers and placing blame, we should be sending love and providing these human beings with the resources they need to help themselves.
We are better than this, America.