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Friday, November 16, 2018

Opinion

We need to stop dehumanizing the migrant caravan


Much of the language surrounding the migrant caravan is biased and uses fear tactics to paint it as a dangerous burden. The United States needs to recognize the participants of the migrant caravan for what they are: refugees legally seeking asylum. | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/user: MB289

The wave of Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries has ballooned to around 7,000 people. The uncooperative response of the American and Mexican authorities has led to a negative reaction from President Trump, who has politicized their plight as a scare tactic for the upcoming midterm elections.

President Trump falsely claimed that the migrant caravan includes “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners.” He later admitted that there is no proof for the statement. This has not stopped misinformation about the group from swirling online. These scare tactics are being unfairly used to influence voters into perceiving the migrant caravan as a dangerous mob.

The fears of the migrant caravan are unfounded, but this has not stopped the president from utilizing his position to weaponize these poor, non-white individuals to energize his base in the midterms. President Trump is hoping that fear will maintain the GOP’s control of the House and the Senate, allowing him to keep his grasp on power.

We must remember one thing: the migrant caravan is composed of people, humans just like us, including women and children who are yearning for a better life.

The migrant caravan should be treated as a humanitarian crisis. Trump’s attempts to dehumanize the migrants only makes the situation worse.

The president utilizing his platform to state that he is considering closing the border and denying asylum to refugees continues the cycle of dehumanization of the migrant caravan, turning people into walking political props for the upcoming election.

The hungry, poverty-stricken masses of people making the long and perilous journey to our nation’s southern border are not a threat to the safety and well-being of Americans, despite what government officials might say.

Attempts to rile up fears of invasion by comparing the migrant caravan to an invading army is just plain wrong. These people are asylum seekers, not criminals like MS-13 gangsters, as has been claimed.

Comparing the migrant caravan to an invading army in an attempt to stir up fears of an impending invasion is a discriminatory  and misinformed conclusion. The individuals in the migrant caravan are asylum seekers, not criminals like MS-13 gang members, as has been claimed.

The only difference between us and them is that we were lucky enough to be born on this side of the border.

Showing a bit of empathy and compassion for people who are suffering should not be a partisan issue. Siding with immigrants should not be seen as a plea for open borders. It is a plea for recognizing the humanity of the people who are making a treacherous travel through 90-degree heat, walking day and night to reach the promise of a better life.

America is defining their character in front of the international community as the migrant caravan slowly makes its way north. Are we to shrink in fear and hate, or are we to rise in empathy for these families who are victims of corrupt governments and violence?

If we cannot find in ourselves enough empathy to at least recognize the plight of the migrant caravan, we are doing something wrong as a nation. We cannot let fear take away our capability for humanity, and most of all we should not be deluded by our leaders attempting to dehumanize and use the migrant caravan as a political weapon to stoke up fear.

Opinion columnist Janet Miranda is a marketing junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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