Refugees Are Human Beings, No Exceptions

Refugees Are Human Beings, No Exceptions

Stop acting like their brown lives don't matter.

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Earlier this week photos arose informing the world that Trump had decided to tear gas migrants seeking asylum at the US-Mexican border. Seventy-plus refugee men, women and children were seen caught in a cloud of painful gas as they fled from what had seemed to be their only protection.

They were a part of a caravan of over 5,000 refugees traveling from far and wide seeking protection. They fled widespread gang violence and extreme poverty, which left them no choice but to leave for a better life or die.

Despite our country's raging racism and domestic terrorism issues, it seems like a vacation compared to the conditions the refugees have to deal with. Many believe that the motivation to come to the U.S. stems from a noble cause to make money for your family and start anew, but these refugees are running for their lives. Their home countries, wrecked by U.S. policies that forced convicted criminals back, suffer from an infestation of gang activities and civil wars.

Their youth are enticed into gangs in order to support their families and an endless cycle of gang violence and continued inequalities creates a dangerous atmosphere. Local police and judicial systems try to control the violence but gangs are so rampant there seems to be no solution.

There is danger at every corner and the only light seems to be America, a predominately Christian country founded by immigrants fleeing persecution and danger.

Rather than being met with help and kindness, a tyrant of a president has continuously failed to meet the requirements of normal humanity. Placing them in cages, separating families, tear gassing children; it seems as if these brown lives also do not matter to the president.

Refugees are humans, with families and needs just like our own. They seek help and safety, nothing more, and as human beings, we must extend them kindness. Our country claims to be a world superpower, "effectively" delegating wars from afar and balancing world peace. But what is to say about what's happening to our neighbor's next door? How could we ignore the atrocities they continue to face as if they do not share the same Earth as ours?

The treatment we continue to see forced upon these refugees is disgusting especially since the Christmas season nears. Seventy-five percent of Americans identify as Christian, with 73% of the GOP identifying as Christian, and yet they lack the human decency and Christian duty to care for refugees.

It seems they have forgotten their own Savior was a refugee, seeking shelter and kindness where none was found. It seems their kindness only extends to their close circle, eliminating a chance for these brown lives to matter. It seems like American Christians have strayed far from their faith to appeal to political ideology and a burnt orange tyrant who cares about only himself.

Refugees are human beings. They are important and they are in danger. Stop treating them like their brown lives do not matter.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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I Went To The USA's Southern Border

Newspaper after newspaper talk of our southern border's security crisis, but what is it like to see for yourself? With a team of students by my side, I went to find out.

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On Friday, the 15 of February 2019, President Donald Trump of the United States of America declared a national emergency in El Paso, Texas to free up government funds for the ever-prominent border wall. Trump cited the current situation in El Paso as well as his rally, which led him to make this controversial move.

Members of the Republican and Democratic parties alike have deemed this decision as an inequitable use of power, hence the extensive controversy that has surrounded the issue in the time following the event. According to the El Paso Times, Trump demanded about $5.7 billion USD for the construction of a wall on the border, claiming that "'We're going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we're going to do it one way or another.'"

However, my friends, how do we know that this is the right way to confront the security plights plaguing our border? Perhaps one source may say that we are making the correct decision, but others might say otherwise. As the Chinese proverb says, "There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth." We know only the knowledge that is passed down to us through a series of journalists and reporters vying for the public's attention, and they can only tell us so much of what they see and hear- and from their eyes only.

The closest one can ever come to a situation's truth is to see it for themselves, however. My private high school recently made the decision to utilize the resources that fortune has presented us with to take a group of students into the 'belly of the beast'- El Paso, Texas. The home of the Mexico-USA border, and home of today's turmoil.

The Journey's Roadmap

Upon hearing of this golden opportunity, I eagerly signed the necessary papers to participate in this enthralling experience. 23 students in total were selected from the interested student body, with the resulting group being mainly comprised of 11th-grade students, with a few 10th graders (Me!) and 9th graders mixed in. The trip's itinerary provided a diverse assemblage of volunteering opportunities aiding immigrants in the process of seeking asylum, as well as educational presentations on the topic of immigration.

Through this, not only was I able to verify and disprove some previously reported "facts" on the immigration issues facing our country today through the informational presentations and experiences that I participated in, but I was able to see the arguably equally significant side of the situation- the human side. Facts, figures, and statistics can make for article after article, and breakthrough after breakthrough- but just as well, the face of a despaired, sobbing child separated from his or her parent can speak volumes not to our minds- but our hearts.

At The Fence

Many groups of El Paso citizens attended Trump's previously mentioned rally pertaining to the wall's construction, one of which was a particularly pertinent posse- the U.S. Border Patrol. While this gives many readers and viewers of the daily news the impression that our security is in absolute favor of the wall's construction, I heard what they truly believed- straight from the source themselves.

I spoke with one officer in particular, yet for the sake of his privacy, I will address him by his surname- Martinez. Martinez stated that in New York City, which has a land area of 302.6 miles squared, there are a total of 38,422 police officers. He went on to say, "We cover about 125,000 square miles of land out here, and at the moment, we only have 1800 officers on this." In other words, considering the sheer land mass and the amount of danger presented in the land the border patrol officers currently cover, they are severely understaffed- which can especially be seen when comparing the ratio of officers to square miles of land in New York City to that of El Paso.

According to Martinez, the current fence on the southern border is made of 18-foot high steel pillars, built with reinforced concrete for strength and structural integrity. Currently, the fence does not go all the way around the border, however, Martinez stated. When prompted if the fence has proved to be helpful thus far, Martinez and his co-workers explained that while the fence fails to keep a lot of people and contraband out of the country, it is quite helpful to keep out one thing in specific- vehicles.

Vehicles had previously been utilized in the transportation of large groups of people, drugs, and other forms of potentially hazardous contraband. However, the fence has been a major aid in the prevention of such vehicles from entering, thus making the job of border patrol officers like Martinez a bit easier.

In addition, Martinez stated that the fence has succeeded in slowing down the entrance of people and goods in general, acting as a sort of troublesome obstacle to hinder the speed of those attempting to illegally enter. However, that is not to say that a fence or wall is the proper solution to the current border crisis. According to the border patrol officers we spoke with, it is not to be known as an end-all solution, or a foolproof way to impact the flow of illegal immigrants, but simply as an obstacle designed to give the border patrol teams more response time, therefore making it slightly easier to apprehend the immigrants in question.

However, while this is all perfectly beneficial for keeping out contraband and/or dangerous men and women, what about those who are simply seeking asylum from a home of peril and fear? Those who want nothing more than a chance at a better life for them and their loved ones? According to Martinez once again, in the past few years, one amount has spiked in particular- the number of families trying to enter the United States of America.

In other words, America, a fence can only do so much to keep danger at bay. We aim to divide our people from danger...but at the cost of dividing our people from theirs?

There's plenty more to this story, dear readers. Look out for Part 2 to see what else is truly happening at America's southern border. Thank you for reading!

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