The inhumanity of immigration policy

Rio Grande enforcement tactics demonstrate the violence of border security.

(Lyndzi Ramos / Daily Trojan)

Everything is bigger in Texas — including the hate for immigrants traveling through the Rio Grande. The American government has left migrants’ bodies forgotten in this river, and they are often only remembered by the 11 million undocumented immigrants seeking immigration reform. It’s a river crossed by children, parents and those who seek to be future Americans, only to feel like a shadow once they enter the United States. 

In July, Texas Governor Greg Abbott placed buoys along the river that read “Prohibida La Entrada,” meaning “Entrance Prohibited,” to prevent migrants from crossing. Despite Governor Abbott’s dedication to making Texas a pro-life state, it seems as though when a person is an immigrant, specifically a Latin American immigrant crossing the river, their life is not protected by Texas. 

The buoys were attached to a form of barricade about 1,000 feet long, fastened to the bottom of the river and connected to nets below the water to prevent people from swimming beneath them. The buoys rotate, so climbing is not a viable method of crossing, either. In addition, there are saws attached through the middle of the buoys, and the bank of the river along the Texas border is lined with sharp steel wire.

As a result, the buoys cut children and adults when they attempt to cross: In July, two bodies were recovered near the buoys. To say “Come legally or just don’t come,” is a statement rooted in the privilege of living in a country where moving is a luxury, not a necessity. Being an immigrant is not always a choice — often, immigrating is needed to escape violence or poverty.

Wrapping river banks with wire to cut open those who seek opportunity and safety does not live up to the “pro-life” statement. Viewing migration as a threat and treating immigrants in such a manner is inhumane. Migrants are people, and no documents should be necessary to establish this fact. 

In contrast, the state of California has furthered its resources for migrants: In 2013, former California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60, which requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who can prove their identities. A year ago, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a state bill, AB 1766, which allows anyone to obtain a California ID, regardless of immigration status or their ability to drive.

L.A. serves as a sanctuary city, protecting undocumented immigrants from being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sanctuary cities are an initiative to separate local and federal law and empower communities to grow with the help of immigrants.

L.A. and California have improved their efforts to support undocumented immigrants, as the tenth bus carrying migrants from Texas arrived in L.A. just last week. While Texas poorly welcomes immigrants, L.A. opens its arms in support, recognizing that this city is a place many migrants head to for safety.

Still, improvements on immigration protection programs at the state and federal levels are necessary. The government should enact a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, and universities should install Dream Resource Centers for students. Integrated support must be available for all students, and undocumented people need to feel represented.

At USC, it is important to recognize the undocumented population on campus and provide resources, staff and spaces for them. Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success at USC has created a space for undocumented students and offers “UndocuGrad,” a special graduation ceremony for undocumented students.

In the same way that monarch butterflies make their way north each year, migrants flee to America for safety. But if our stories are not shared and our struggles are not recognized, undocumented migrants will remain in their cocoons, never able to flourish in the “land of opportunity.” As for Texas, buoys do not solve problems, but instead leave scars on those who seek sanctuary.

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