Tear Gas & Fear en Masse

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The recent restrictive immigration laws passed by our current administration have sparked many protests. The majority of these demonstrations have taken place along the US-Mexican border as the caravan was awaiting legal entry while thousands of immigrants continue to flee the dangers they face at home. The United States government has indeed turned its back to refugees again and has also used violence to suppress those expressing a first amendment right.

During the last week of November, a peaceful march along the San Ysidro border triggered a violent response from border patrol. As immigrants protested and attempted to cross, even legally, tear gas and rubber bullets were fired at them; mostly women and children experienced this unexpected backlash. This port of entry was immediately shut down for about five hours. Asylum seekers were directed by the federal administration to stay in Mexico– an action that is a critical human rights violation and breaks the promise of the 1951 United Nations Geneva Convention followed by its protocol in 1967; this convention made a clear refugee law for all signing countries and governments. The United States was the main signatory in the international treaty protocol.

History continues to repeat itself as the United States once again denies refugees entry into our nation. When Jews and minorities sought asylum in America during WWII, they were sent back home where they would find themselves either escaping constant persecution or in ghettos and camps, destined to die. This time, harmful and violent acts were enacted to communicate an intolerant message. This event draws a parallel with the massacre of Kristallnacht in 1938. Violent acts, such as the burning of synagogues and shattering windows of Jewish store fronts were resorted to as an attempt to instill fear in the unwanted minorities, basically telling them, “get out, or else….” By threatening immigrants to stay out, refugees and their families are forced to return to lives of constant risk where opportunities for stability are nearly impossible. American intervention in these conflicts is essential as its position as a global superpower with mass sphere of influence provides the ability to help other human beings who seriously need it. Selfishness in foreign policy has proved to fail in the past and we must be weary of the results indifference to human rights poses.

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