Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free….

Migrants are seen outside the U.S. Border Patrol McAllen Station in a makeshift encampment in McAllen, Texas, U.S., May 15, 2019.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there have been 593,507 apprehensions at the Southwest border in the last fiscal year, October 2018 to May 2019.

These numbers aren’t unusual but it does represent a crisis; a crisis in the homeland of those apprehended. Of the 593,507 migrants attempting to seek refuge in America 56,278 were unaccompanied children.

Take a second to think, what must it take to drive a mother or a father to send their child to walk thousands of miles on their own? The reasons for these parent’s actions is the crisis; the unlivable and violent situations they are subjected to at home.

In years past, filing for asylum may have been their saving grace but that’s a resource that is being taken from them — along with their children, their pride and their hope.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs of Border Protection (CBP) under this current administration have made an effort to thwart the plans of a better life for our neighbors south of the border. Along with being separated from their children many are held in conditions that are abhorrent for any human. Being forced to sleep outside on dirt floors with infants, not being offered proper sanitation products to combat illness and bacteria, being barred from taking showers for weeks, and being held in small rooms with standing room only.

Some of a group of 88 adult males press against the window of a cell built to hold 41 people at Fort Brown border patrol station in Brownsville, Texas. Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters

“If you want water, just drink from a toilet.’ That’s what border patrol told one thirsty woman we met on today's #DemsAtTheBorderTrip,” California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu explained in a tweet. “These are the same CBP personnel who threatened to throw burritos at members of Congress. Changes must be made.”

This week more than a dozen members of Congress visited two border patrol facilities on a tour organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Their motive was to witness the living conditions of these migrants and ask them about their experience, however, the CBP wouldn’t fully cooperate.

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on hand at the facility. Cortez described in a tweet, “These are concentration camps. According to concentration camp experts, people begin to die due to overcrowding, neglect, and shortage of resources. We saw all three of those signs on our trip yesterday. Another person died yesterday. And those are [just] the deaths we know about.”

A picture of an overcrowded area holding families at a border patrol facility in Weslaco, released as part of a report by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. Photograph: Handout/Reuters

Thus far there have been 39 documented adult deaths in ICE custody since 2015. Adding to that number, six children have died in U.S. custody since September 2018, that number is expected to climb.

Reformation of the standards, codes, and ethics by ICE and CBP agents are needed. However, change seems unlikely due to the outlook of the Trump administration’s new choice to lead ICE.

Mark Morgan, ICE’s new acting director, explained during an interview on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, “I’ve been to detention facilities where I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under,” Morgan said in January. “I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes, Tucker — and I’ve said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.”

The racial stereotypes of migrant children by executives and their subordinates is the reason these children and their parents are treated less than human in a country that preaches freedom.

Currently, these for-profit concentration camps are charging taxpayers $750 per day to house migrants. That’s more than a night at the Ritz Carlton, a charge that amounts to $22,000 a month to house one child. However, these victims aren’t supplied with soap, toothbrushes, adequate beds, nutritious food, clothing, or an adequate blanket to keep them warm. So, where is that money going?

A picture of an overcrowded area holding families at a border patrol facility in Weslaco, released as part of a report by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. Photograph: Handout/Reuters

To make issues even worse, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a decision in April of 2019 that will see to it that many more asylum seekers will not be eligible for release on bond once they are apprehended.

In Matter of M-S-, which will go into effect 90 days after it was issued on April 16, 2019 — Barr states asylum seekers who are first put into what are known as “expedited removal” proceedings will not be eligible for release on bond while their cases await a decision in immigration court, according to Nolo.com.

In hopes of subsiding the suffering of migrants, in late June, the House of Representatives passed a Trump-backed border funding bill by a vote of 305–102. The emergency bill will appropriate $4.6 billion to humanitarian aid for migrants while also allocating additional funding for security measures at the southern border.

In response to the bill, President Trump replied, “I think that a lot of people are starting to realize that I was right when I said we have a crisis at the border. Everyone is saying, now, [we] had a crisis at the border.”

What is being missed is the true crisis, not migrants are crossing the border, but why are they crossing the border? As well as, what CBP and ICE are doing with them once they’re on American soil?

Many citizens realize and are heartbroken by the treatment of these migrants, and are attempting to help in any way possible. Last week Elizabeth DeCou, 66, a grandmother from California visited a detention center in an attempt to donate toys to migrant children. She was greeted by law enforcement and promptly arrested for her kind deed.

Elizabeth DeCou was arrested Sunday after approaching the Baptist Child and Family Services facility in Fairfield, despite warnings from police to step back onto the sidewalk. (Courtesy The Mercury News)

People have attempted to donate soap, diapers, and other items to those held in detention centers only to have them rejected by ICE and CBP agents. However, there is a litany of additional ways we can help these migrants endure or vacate the harsh conditions they’re subjected to. If you would like to help, please visit the links below.

  • RAICES — The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services is a non-profit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.
  • Freedom for Immigrants — Freedom for Immigrants uses a wide range of advocacy tools, including community organizing, coalition building, and legislative advocacy, to fight for a country without immigration detention.
  • Annunciation House — accompany the migrant, refugee, and economically vulnerable peoples of the border region through hospitality, advocacy, and education.
  • Arizona-based faith nonprofit Gathering Humanity — Works hand-in-hand with all 4 Federal refugee resettlement agencies in Phoenix to support refugees being resettled in the Phoenix area. Our volunteer teams collect household goods for incoming refugee families and set up their apartments, provide groceries, and meals.
  • Casa Alitas — serves migrant families who have left their home countries to escape violence and poverty. We provide care, short-term shelter and help to reunite with family members in the U.S.
  • United We Dream At United We Dream, we transform that fear into finding your voice. We empower people to develop their leadership, their organizing skills, and to develop our own campaigns to fight for justice and dignity for immigrants and all people. This is achieved through immigrant youth-led campaigns at the local, state, and federal level.
  • Families Belong Together — includes nearly 250 organizations representing Americans from all backgrounds who have joined together to fight family separation and promote dignity, unity, and compassion for all children and families. Led by the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Women’s Refugee Commission, MomsRising, FWD.us, United We Dream, People’s Action, ACLU, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, MoveOn and others, the coalition has raised millions of dollars for immigrant children and families, mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in all 50 states to take action, and helped to reunite thousands of families.

These are just a few of many ways we can assist our imprisoned neighbors to regain their freedom, give them a chance at safety and hope for future prosperity. Speaking of these injustices can also be a major help, awareness is the first step in combating this issue. Share this article, donate to one of the links above, or be vocal about the crisis at the border to family and loves ones.

With a speedy news cycle, it’s easy to forget last weeks tragedy once it’s out of the spotlight. However, these problems are still ongoing and these migrants are still suffering. This country is in a rough patch but don’t lose hope. Light always brightens darkness, good will overcome. Things won’t change overnight but they will change if those with good intentions continue to fight for change.

Thank you.

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Andrew N. McLean

Andrew N. McLean

McLean is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles, Ca. A graduate of Cal State Fullerton, McLean majored in journalism and minored in philosophy.