BY BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN
Yesterday was a dark day for America. Donald Trump sanctioned the use of teargas on hundreds of men, women & children at the U.S. border to further bolster his own lies and grandstanding about the nature of these people and their motivations. The migrants at the border right now are refugees fleeing unthinkable violence in their home countries. To greet them with tear gas and threats of lethal force is abhorrent.
Every day Donald Trump reaches new lows in his disdain for immigrants and people of color around the world. Let’s be clear: this so-called “crisis” at the border is an illusion that has been ginned up by Donald Trump and his sycophants to further his disgusting anti-immigrant agenda. The reckless violence by the U.S. government on our own border is wanton and disgraceful.
At the end of World War II, the United States accepted its role as a world leader. As part of that leadership, it has taken in more refugees and asylum seekers than any other nation. Twenty-two percent of New Jersey’s residents began their journey in another country, including 108,000 children. These people are seeking the same safe harbor, and deserve our compassion, not violence.
Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, the nations from which most of these refugees have fled, have faced systematic violence as a result of decades of political instability due, in part, to US political intervention. For much of the 20th Century, it has been US policy – both official and unofficial – to prop up authoritarian regimes in Central America in order to protect our own agricultural interests. From backing leaders that perpetrated civilian bombings to interventions that resulted in our own forces training eventual terrorists, the US contributed directly to the instability and violence these refugees are now running from. El Salvador and Honduras rank number 1 and 2 in murder rate worldwide with Guatemala coming in at number 15. The 500-mile stretch of Central America is perhaps the deadliest piece of land outside of an active warzone.
For years, our nation has welcomed immigrants because we recognize both the growth and promise they bring and the moral duty we have towards our fellow human beings. One does not walk 2,700 miles merely seeking a ‘better life.’ These refugees are trying to save their lives and those of their families. They are seeking asylum. We must recognize the humanity in those who’ve arrived at our shores, tired, poor and yearning to breathe free, and welcome them to take part in the grand experiment that is America.
Bonnie Watson Coleman is the Congresswoman from New Jersey’s 12th District.