News & Commentary

Statement: The Humanitarian Crisis at the Southern Border

March 23, 2021

Mother and childon bus with masks
A Mexican mother and daughter are seated alongside fellow asylum seekers on a bus, which will take them to various cities across the United States where they will await their court hearings, in Brownsville, Texas, on March 12, 2021. | Callaghan O’Hare for POLITICO

Plumsted for Progress believes that the events which are occurring at our southern border are a humanitarian crisis. Those arriving there are not, as some have claimed, immigrants seeking to reap the benefits of the United States; they are refugees seeking asylum from the hardships of their native country.

The arrivals are overwhelmingly from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These countries have, over the course of the last several years, faced a myriad of adversities that were only exacerbated by the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. A pandemic-injured economy, a series of hurricanes last year, gang violence, government corruption, and crop failures due to climate change are just some of the factors these refugees are fleeing.

Coinciding with these issues are America’s current immigration policies. The restrictionist policies during the former administration led to a “bottling up” of refugees awaiting safe haven, while the rhetoric of the Biden campaign gave them a false impression that the borders would be much more open than they are.

At the heart of this issue lies the thousands of childhood arrivals currently being kept in detention centers throughout the Southwest. The state department’s restart of the Central American Minors Program -- which seeks to unite children with legally residing family members in the United States without them having to show up at the border -- is a good start.

Economic and humanitarian investment in our southern neighbors, a clear message and plan from the Biden administration, and programs that allow refugees easier access to citizenship must be priorities if the United States is going to continue to be the “shining city on a hill” that many of those who have sought a new life here believed it to be.

Few groups throughout history have willingly left ancestral homes without sufficient cause. People flee their native countries when living conditions become unbearable. The lives of these refugees have reached the point where undergoing a dangerous and uncertain journey is a better choice than to remain at home. The United States has the ability to provide the asylum these refugees seek. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” are the words etched into our national symbol of welcoming; the Statue of Liberty. We could still live up to those words.

Narea, Nicole, “The growing number of children in custody on the US-Mexico border, explained,” Mar 15, 2021

Narea, Nicole, “The growing number of children in custody on the US-Mexico border, explained,” Mar 15, 2021

The Central American Minors Program

Benson, Chris, “A Shining City on a Hill,” Nov 8, 2018

Lazarus, Emma, “The New Colossus,” 1883

Authored by Zachary Rose
Plumsted Township Resident, High School History Teacher

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