Washington, DC – Below is a column by Maribel Hastings and David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated to English from Spanish. It ran in several Spanish-language media outlets earlier this week:
There are differing versions about what happened last Friday when a mother and her two children drowned in the Rio Grande at the US-Mexico border. The tragedy occurred in Eagle Pass, Texas, and the immediate vicinity of a border park closed by the Republican governor of that state, Greg Abbott, as part of his “Operation Lone Star.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims that the National Guard of Texas prevented the Border Patrol from entering the zone, after receiving a call from Mexican authorities about an emergency in progress. The Texas National Guard rejects that version.
One thing there is no doubt about is that a migrant mother and her two children became yet another statistic, on a freezing Friday night at the border. But the tragedy highlights the fact that migrants are not numbers, but human beings with problems, worries, and aspirations, who decide to make the sometimes deadly decision of throwing themselves to the river at night, to see if they can arrive at what they consider the “Promised Land,” the United States, fleeing the violence and poverty that plagues their countries of origin.
It’s impossible to not understand the desperation of those migrants who, in their decision to not look back also find themselves in a fight between life or death, something that goes beyond any logical consideration in the terrain of migration politics and that, above all, focuses on establishing standards that seem more than a hindrance than a map to facilitate the exercise of the human right that is migration.
The dehumanization of those migrants begins in their countries of origin, which cannot give them security or opportunities that would allow them to avoid the dangerous journey north. If they survive that journey, in a large proportion of cases they will end up being detained and deported to the same Hell that they fled. They will return to being part of the root of the migration problem, in large part fomented by the enormous inequality of an economic system that has gotten to a savage state, where humanism and equality do not form part of its essence.
And then there are those who are able to enter without documents and try to pass under the radar screen in towns and cities in the United States and begin a life in the shadows, which is a better alternative to what they had in their countries.
And there are also those, like this woman and her children, who die in the attempt.
What’s lamentable is that all of this could be avoided if the immigration laws were reformed and legal paths for those migrants to come to the United States without risking their lives were widened; whether that be with work visas for industries that desperately need workers: increasing the visa cap for existing jobs; or through family reunification visas, since the citizens of some countries have to wait decades to be able to reunite with family members who petitioned for them in the United States.
This same reform would create an asylum process that responds and adjusts to the needs of this century.
To that, we’d have to add the legalization of the millions of undocumented people among us who are already working and paying taxes. Legalizing them would lead to even more taxes for the Treasury. And, of course, such reform would send more resources to the border.
But during the past decades Republicans have blocked any attempt at realizing this immigration reform in Congress, and preferred to exploit the issue for political and electoral ends, with the goal of continuing to accuse the Democrats of having “open borders” and permitting migrants to “invade” us.
Abbott himself is one of the Republicans who has gone from rhetoric to cruel and dehumanizing action, sending migrants on buses and planes to cities run by Democrats; placing dangerous buoys and barbed wire in the Rio Grande; and declaring that “the only thing that [his government is] not doing is we’re not shooting people who come across the border, because of course the Biden administration would charge us with murder”; and closing the border park in whose environs the tragedy on Friday occurred.
And to top it all off, the threat facing migrants does not cease. Donald Trump’s victory on Monday in the Iowa caucus seems to be another step toward his intent of winning the Republican presidential nomination. The same Trump of the wall, of family separation, of Title 42 and so many other nasty policies, who built his anti-immigrant resume this past weekend the assertion that when he assumes the presidency in 2025 (if he wins the nomination and the general election), “will carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.”
On X his advisor, the also anti-immigrant Stephen Miller, wrote with his characteristic dose of cynicism that “the deportations will begin at noon, Inauguration Day.”
To read the Spanish version of this column click here.