From Nov. 15 to 18, seven Ithaca College students traveled to the United States-Mexico border to attend the School of the Americas Watch 2018 Border Encuentro — a gathering dedicated to protesting the United States’ suppressive immigration policies and educate people on the broader, more in-depth issues surrounding immigration.
While on the trip, the students attended multiple discussions, vigils and rallies. These events were held to honor those who died attempting to cross the border, to protest the suppression and abuse of migrants and to communicate what can be done regarding the current immigration issues in the United States. A significant portion of the discussions held was about “border imperialism,” a term used to describe the conditions perpetuated by the U.S. and other countries that lead to destabilization and then mass immigration.
Currently, the rights of immigrants entering the country illegally and immigration, as a whole, is a topical issue in American politics and the media. Among issues such as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers and migrant caravans, the issue of immigration in our country has seen no shortage of media coverage. However, the reporting of these issues and the responses to it largely reflect the bipartisanship that grips the American people and often overlooks the detrimental impact these immigration policies have on migrants themselves. When debating U.S. immigration, Americans tend to selfishly discuss the immediate effects immigration law has on themselves.
Not only did the students participate in workshops and presentations that put the focus of their advocacy work on migrants — rightfully so — they dug deep into issues surrounding immigration, including the policies and circumstances that cause mass migration in the first place. The mainstream media often overlooks the United States’ complicity in these policies, or deliberate action, that has been well documented in the past. Neoliberal policies pushed by the U.S. have been ravaging Latin America for decades, often causing destabilization. What makes these students’ work at the border so admirable is that they are bringing to light the truth about mass immigration and what causes it. Not only that, they are also coming up with sustainable solutions, which our government officials seem to be conveniently ignoring and trading for tear-gas rockets to shoot at migrants protesting peacefully at the southern border.
Though it seems we are currently facing an era of turmoil and violence under President Donald Trump’s administration when it comes to his immigration policies, these students represent a hopeful future. Now more than ever, we need to be addressing issues of immigration compassionately and with sound logic. Thank goodness these students are leading the way.