Thursday, January 26, 2017

How a Kino Border Initiative Volunteer Feels in Wake of Trump's Executive Orders

Refugee family--nothing to be afraid of here.
I reaffirm my commitment to work toward binational solidarity and humane, just and workable migration policies, especially considering President Trump’s executive actions that instead cause division, dehumanization, and injustice.

I'm deeply concerned about the Trump Administration’s plan to dramatically expand border enforcement, including hiring an additional 5000 agents. Every day I assist Mexican brothers and sisters who are deported to Nogales, Sonora. I see firsthand the suffering caused by dramatic increases in border policing.

One third of people surveyed in the KBI migrant assistance center have received degrading treatment or abuse when detained by US Border Patrol. In the past 14 months Kino filed 45 complaints on behalf of migrants who reported abuse. Dramatically and hastily expanding this agency without adequate training and accountability will just make the situation worse, not promote safety.

It's urgent that the US take responsibility to protect individuals fleeing violence. Every day, men, women and children are forced to leave their homes and arrive at the KBI aid center. For many, their only option to seek safety is to ask for asylum in the United States. The people who request asylum are already being routinely rejected by Customs and Border Protection officials, subject to harsh and unnecessarily prolonged detention, and given little access to due process in pursuing their legal claims. Trump’s executive orders will only make their situation worse. Our moral and religious principles--let alone our international obligations--require us to welcome people seeking protection.

Rather than focusing solely on security, our nation must recommit itself to work with our brothers and sisters in other countries to address the reasons people migrate in the first place. We need to examine the extreme poverty and violence that force people from their home communities.

In his address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis in 2015 invited us “to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.” Working toward peace, justice, and prosperity is a challenging task, but that is our call. Let's abandon approaches that sow division and cause more suffering.

photo credit: KBI; text: taken from KBI press release 1/25/2017

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