Campus Activism: Asylum at the U.S.-Mexican Border

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This past weekend asylum seekers from Central and South America faced tear gas from American authorities as they tried to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. It has been hard for me to figure out what’s really happening because so much focus has been on Trump’s rhetoric instead of the people themselves. Here are some points that have helped me get a grasp on the situation (taken from the articles at the bottom):

  • The U.S. cannot get rid of its legal obligation to accept asylum seekers, but the process can be delayed/prolonged.
  • Migrants are facing tear gas, unsanitary conditions, and long wait times in overcrowded camps.
  • The only person that has mentioned authorization of lethal force has been President Trump, and the Secretary of Defense needs to authorize that, which Mattis so far hasn’t.  

I’m not sure how this impacts students at UMass, but I have no doubt that it does. I heard that during the Muslim travel ban, the UMass Amherst president had to personally get a student released from custody. This article talks about how students across the country have family members facing deportation and have been skipping school work and classes.

“Schools in the South were most affected. More than one of seven educators in the South, and one in eight nationally, reported that students’ learning was significantly affected because of their concern over classmates' being deported,” NBCreported.

While reports like these have been about pre-college education, colleges have also been affected. I know that the presidents of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, Amherst, NYU and Duke wrote personal letters to President Trump in 2017 asking him to protect DACA on behalf of their students. It's not hard to imagine how students who have families that are threatened by hostile immigration rhetoric and policies are impacted by the two-year long battle Trump's waged against immigrants, and the horrifying events at the border this past weekend. 

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