“If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation anymore!” President Trump tweeted on Nov. 24.
My opinion is not that you should take a single stance on immigration. It is that immigration, in the context of U.S. law, is not scrutinized enough in the eyes of our younger generations.
For example, when was the last time you took a peek at the Declaration of Independence? This isn’t a history test. I, for one, could not tell you when I last read it.
Yet, who hasn’t heard this line:
“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that form that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” according to the final draft of the United States Declaration.
This quote holds a certain weight for me when I think about innocent people fleeing persecution from their home country.
I write this article, as I do all of them, not to urge the reader to believe one way or another. But I am frustrated by the lack of interest in issues, such as these, that exist at our very own borders. I believe before one calls themself an “American,” one must understand the weight of our immigration systems, whether they be lenient or firm.
For instance, the laws that pertain to immigrants coming into the United States–seeking asylum–states that anyone can apply for asylum status, either on U.S. soil or at the “designated point of entry,” according to CBS News.
But what does asylum status actually entail? According to the American Immigration Council, it is the “protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a ‘refugee.’”
There are a number of laws that oversee the protection of refugees, specifically those that are applying for asylum from their own country. One of these laws, the 1967 Protocol, establishes that “the United States has legal obligations to provide protection to those who qualify as refugees,” according to the American Immigration Council.
Some may wonder what kind of persecution refugees are fleeing from.
As I mentioned above, those fleeing to this country are looking to escape persecution. To be specific, they are looking to escape persecution that includes detainment, torture and death “when they oppose repressive governments,” according to a 2018 article written by professors at Yale University, University of Connecticut and the University of Virginia. The article also said that it includes attacks based on ethnic or religious affiliations. It also includes criminal and extrajudicial persecutions for those with non-conventional sexual orientations.
I spoke with one of these authors, Katherine C. McKenzie, in an interview. “We get people who have fled to the United States, claiming persecution in their own countries and they are seeking asylum in the United States,” McKenzie said.
As the director for the Yale Center for Asylum Medicine, McKenzie clarified that the Center is not responsible for the health or the result of the refugees that come through the Center. However, her team conducts objective medical evaluations for those seeking asylum. “What we are offering is a piece of the legal puzzle for the attorney,” McKenzie said.
In the article mentioned above, McKenzie collaborated with Jon Bauer and P. Preston Reynolds to discuss the role of physicians for asylum seekers in our modern world. In the article, they stated that “in 2016, over 65 million individuals were displaced from their homes due to human rights abuses” and that “262,000 people applied for asylum in the USA.”
Organizations, like the Yale Center for Asylum Medicine, conduct assessments based on the health of refugees to aid or deter their legal case. In cases where the refugee is able to provide proof in the forensic report that they were persecuted in one of the following ways–“political opinion, race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group”–according to McKenzie’s article. Often, proof of persecution is physical or mental forms of torture: blunt trauma, sharp trauma, thermal trauma, electrical shocks, forced positions and inhumane conditions of confinement.
However, since Trump’s tweet regarding the inclusion of asylum seekers into the country, the conditions of these refugees have not been mitigated. Instead, asylum seekers are now being marked with individual numbers on their arms in permanent marker at the border in El Paso, according to Newsweek.
I understand the fear and the worry that comes with the thought of immigrants coming to the United States. However, before we can refrain from allowing asylum seekers within our borders, we have to understand what it is they are fleeing from and what we are turning our cheeks to.