The Use Of Tear Gas On Immigrants Crossing The Border Is Inhumane and Indefensible

The Use Of Tear Gas On Immigrants Crossing The Border Is Inhumane and Indefensible

"They use their children as shields. Disgusting." - Said by my dad to my horror while watching the news report this morning


If you missed the subheadline, this quote was thoughtlessly tossed out by my dad while we were watching the CBS news report on that viral image of a mother and her three children getting tear-gassed. This act of inhumanity by United States' authority figures is repugnant of the 1963 Birmingham protest, where African American teenagers who were peacefully protesting in Birmingham, Alabama were shot with high-pressure water hoses. In that instance, official's reaction to the Birmingham Protest was so deplorable, that the rest of the world stepped in to shame the United States. The intensity of that global pressure caused U.S. president John F. Kennedy to address the violence in his statement that "[t]he events in Birmingham... have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them" in tandem with his quick abolition of the state's Jim Crow Laws.

Yet, half a century later, my father dropped this awful line. I looked to my mom, to share a look of common understanding of how vile this comment was, but she just glanced at me from the corner of her eye and pretended not to notice.

Although this initial line struck a sharp shiver of surprise through me, it would prove to be the first of many I'd encounter today. In good taste, my friend had posted the Washington Post's article on the incident and I made the mistake of scrolling through the comments. Here are just a few:

screenshot by Shannon Solley

screenshot by Shannon Solley

screenshot by Shannon Solley

Cruel, cowardly and close-minded are just some of the words which come to mind while reading these absurdly hateful comments. Suddenly, after reading these statements, President Trump's supporters and their selfish mindsets are made clear. Each comment exhibits a similar theme: "It's not my problem." Yet, these individuals were so passionate that they went so far as to comment. Why not go on with their day? Trump is president, they will get their way— so why bother? Perhaps their estranged adult children refuse to speak to them, so in the dusty, stale air of their empty single houses they sit on their retirement money and lurk in the comment sections of popular articles they don't agree with; but I could be wrong— their children may very well call them once a month.

Luckily, U.S. society as a whole is not in agreement with this blatant child abuse. Like a breath of fresh air, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) put out several statements which condemned the retraumatization of children who tried to escape from the traumatic circumstances of their home country. Of most importance is the AAP's explanation of the dangers which face children exposed to tear gas:

"[c]hildren are uniquely vulnerable to physiological effects of chemical agents. A child's smaller size, more frequent number of breaths per minute and limited cardiovascular stress response compared to adults magnifies the harm of agents such as tear gas."

Unfortunately, only time will tell if the 60s era United States will be more proactive than our modern-day America. President Trump and his followers have walked us several steps back, so it's going to take some intense social pressure to walk us forward. It seems, however, that the world is maintaining the same indifference as my mother did this morning while bearing witness to this abuse of children and its supporters.

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Why Migrant Workers are Important

Migrants and immigrants who come to the United States to work on farms and other manual labor jobs are a part of our society whether you like it or not.

I usually try not to get into politics, but watching Donald Trump give his nomination acceptance speech last night got me riled up. Among other topics, his discussion on immigration fueled a rage deep inside. In his speech he discussed the terror immigrants who have traveled to the u.s. have unleashed, he has normalized the stereo types that these immigrants are thieves, rapists and murderers.

Through my studies and personal experience a majority of these immigrants and migrants risk everything just to provide for their families, most cross the border with legal papers and those who don't still have someone (typically a legal American citizen) forging their papers for them to work on their farm. When you look at the problem of illegal immigration the problem isn't the immigrants themselves.

Without these immigrants working on farms, working for landscape businesses, contractors, builders and working in any kind of construction, what feeds us, shelters us, and helps us live a comfortable life just wouldn't exist as vastly as it does. When you tell us, "immigrants are taking our jobs!", you get us riled up and angry at the wrong people.... We are the ones giving up jobs. Lets face the facts how many of you would be willing to work in 90-100 degree heat, in the sun for 10+ hours a day 7 days a week, for meager minimum wage pay? Not many. The problem isn't the fact we don't have any jobs, the problem is that people are not willing to work in those brutal conditions, not when there are higher paying jobs, in air conditioned buildings.

Working in the greenhouse/garden center business I see it all the time, landscapers in the area can't seem to find many able bodied workers that are willing to put in the time and effort. Farm families just aren't big enough to have a single family run the farm they need help, and cheap labor is the only way they can afford it. People with degrees don't want to see their degree and money go to waste working long hours for small wages. Those on welfare (who are able bodied) don't want to give up their comfortable, paid for, life to work in a field, or get their hands dirty. Next time you want to call an immigrant a rapist or a murderer who is stealing your jobs, read the news and see how many young white males rape girls on college campuses and compare it to the number of immigrants who are on the news for rape. Look at the murder rate and see how many murders are committed by immigrant workers compared to U.S. born citizens. Then make your way to the market, walk around the produce section, I guarantee you a majority of the fruit and vegetables you see, were harvested by an immigrant, and without those immigrants, the shelves would look bare.

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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.


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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