Editorials

What does it say about us when we slam shut our doors?

Women wait in line in hopes of receiving donated food and hygiene supplies outside of a sports complex that is sheltering for more than 5,000 Central American migrants in Tijuana. Many of those still waiting are considering a return to the countries they left or applying for asylum in Mexico.
Women wait in line in hopes of receiving donated food and hygiene supplies outside of a sports complex that is sheltering for more than 5,000 Central American migrants in Tijuana. Many of those still waiting are considering a return to the countries they left or applying for asylum in Mexico. AP

Some of the stories coming from Tijuana had changed by Wednesday. Instead of people clamoring to get into the United States, they were turning away and going home.

Many will see this as a good thing. Less friction at the border, no more mad dashes across a stream of raw sewage in the face of tear gas canisters fired by armed men in armor and uniforms standing behind a wall of shields. Anything that reduces the potential for violence is a good thing.

But we should realize that those would-be immigrants are turning their backs on their dreams, too. They are giving up on a desperate quest for opportunity, a chance to live without dread that this day could be their last – or the last for their children. Turning their backs on America is recognition that America is not the land of hope and dreams, and certainly not a place of refuge – at least not for them.

That altered worldview is the Trump administration’s goal. That’s why he first asked governors to send the National Guard to the border. It’s why he started taking children from their parents, an unconscionable act yet to be fully rectified. It’s part of the reason he sent in the Army (the other part was as an election stunt). In a way, the President is getting what he wants; ensuring that certain foreigners know they are unwelcome in Trump’s America.

We ought to chew on that awhile. What does Trump’s rhetoric, his inhumane family-separation policies and demands for an impenetrable wall mean for our nation – that place Ronald Reagan described as a “shining city on the hill” open to “anyone with the will and the heart to get here”?

For those filtering out of Tijuana, the lights of that shining city have been turned off.

What others are saying:

New York Daily News – The images of U.S. Border Patrol agents firing tear gas on civilians, including women and children, are agonizing. ... But – and this is a crucially important fact to underline for all who loathe the insidious immigration politics played by President Trump – the U.S.-Mexico border ought not be open. Crossing it without authorization is correctly considered a crime. ... If Trump wished to behave responsibly, he would authorize more asylum officers and immigration judges. (But) he’d rather feed fever dreams of an ongoing invasion, a crisis he says only a wall across the entire southern border can answer.

Washington Post – Despite the recent surge, the overall number of illegal border-crossers ... has been falling for decades. Calling the current crop of migrants a “crisis,” and using caravans as a scare tactic for political purposes, is misleading in the extreme. Rather than tear gas and melees, it would be wiser for the United States to promote prosperity and rule of law in Central America, spread the word that asylum applications are rarely granted and build the infrastructure to handle a genuine need.

San Diego Union-Tribune – Border Patrol agents have a difficult job, maintaining order at the border. Democrats who criticized these agents for using tear gas to stop a group of migrants – men, women and children – who rushed the border and threw rocks, are blaming them for doing that job. ... The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board has long supported comprehensive immigration reform as the most constructive, humane path forward. It remains our goal, but until far more centrists emerge – until the demagogues and demonizers stop grandstanding – it seems a long shot.

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