Frank O'Brien casts his eye over the refugee crisis at the Mexican border. Frank O'Brien is a long time resident of Troy, NY, USA, and former head of Clan na Gael in same city, and area.
Just as there has been a humanitarian crisis from all of those fleeing war torn Syria, Iraq, Libya and from other points in the Middle East, there has been a very large, and rarely mentioned one on our own southern border with Mexico, which has gotten incredibly worse in the last 20 to 25 years.
There are wonderful, and decent people who attempt to help these migrants who have been forced by security measures to travel to the US by way of some of the most inhospitable areas that make up the border area. These human angels leave water, food and other supplies for migrants, so that they don't get dehydrated, or starve, on their trek to what they hope will be a better life than the miserable ones left to them in Mexico.
The number of migrant deaths has risen substantially every year since around the mid-1990s, many having died of exposure, or dehydration out in the worst parts of the desert border areas. Since 9/11 the border with Mexico has become more militarized, forcing migrants to take the most dangerous routes in their attempt to escape their miserable conditions on their side, this all being an act by authorities to deter or stop the illegal passage north. Despite promises by Barack Obama to help Mexicans who are fleeing both economic hardship, and social upheaval, stemming from the drug cartels, and the long lost so-called War on Drugs, he has actually deported more migrants than were deported in the entirety of the Bush/Cheney administration.
Ruthless, and heartless economic policies like NAFTA[North American Free Trade Agreement] were the main cause of the unprecedented increase in forcing poor Mexicans to seek refuge north of the border, since things like NAFTA caused the unemployment rate to skyrocket in Mexico. To have your deterrent to illegal migration being death from forcing migrants to travel on death defying trips, through truly dangerous expanses of land and sea, is the cruelest sort of inhumane logic, and it ought to be illegal.
Though Mexican migrants make up the main amount of illegal immigration to America, others from Latin and South America also make the incredibly dangerous trip in hopes of finding some economic relief, and for Mexicans specifically, an escape from the endemic violence ravaging Mexico. Even if the migrants make it successfully through the gauntlet in front of them, any employment to be found by them in America doesn't pay them very much, since employers who knowingly use illegal immigrants always exploit them, paying them as little as they can.
In utterly heinous acts of inhumanity, border patrols, and vigilante militias ruin the bottled water that humanitarian aid groups leave for the needy travelers, who often very much need the supplies left for them by the aid groups. On Abby Martin's "The Empire Files," Abby spends about 50 minutes giving us a lot of the facts, and realities behind the little spoken of, and monumental humanitarian crisis that has slowly been building to the crescendo that it has finally reached now. "Days of Revolt" with Chris Hedges also recently had an excellent episode on the massive crisis in Mexico, it's economic origins and political dimensions.
When you get down to the pins and needles of it all, America has not been very kind in any way to either the average or poor Mexican. All NAFTA did was to destroy the livelihoods of millions of Mexican farmers, while the demand for illegal drugs has caused the huge problem from the drug cartels. With Donald Trump calling for a Berlin style wall on the border with Mexico, and actually thinking that he can get them to pay for it, it isn't too difficult to see how lunatic the American public has gotten to be. Perhaps some of it is frustration with an economy that hasn't bounced back from the disaster caused by Wall Street in 2008, but some of it is out and out racism, bigotry and ignorance which unfortunately are old social diseases that never went away, merely having lied dormant, if not actually being quite alive and well, with the corporate media just not covering it.
The David Dukes of America far out number the cruder and more easily identifiable bigots, with even a lot of these white supremacists being part of the Establishment. As we are seeing happen in Europe, all it takes is for a major humanitarian crisis, coupled with terrorism, and bad economies to bring out the very worst in people. Islamophobia, racism and other ugly human illnesses that plague us to our very souls, since they are more than illnesses, but literally spiritual maladies.
The humanitarian group that is shown on Abby Martin's "The Empire Files," is a group called No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, and they unbelievably get harassed by the border patrol, and other law enforcement. Many times it is the border patrol that slash, and empty out the gallons of otherwise life saving water that No More Deaths leaves out in the desert for the migrants. The Colibri Center for Human Rights also is shown on "The Empire Files," mainly in relation to its sad duty of helping to identify the hundreds of dead bodies that are found out in the desert of southern Arizona.
These migrants are just like you and me, merely wanting safety and security for their families, and many of them on average are already integrated into the community, on average having worked about 9 years here in the US. Assembly like courts for expelling them, where at times 80 migrants are processed, are some of what these vulnerable people face, all of which is anathema to what has been described as family values around our election times. Many wind up serving sentences of jail/prison time in for profit prisons, which only enrich the corporations that run them, with no doubt kickbacks to certain judges, police, prosecutors and lawyers. This is part of what is known as Operation Streamline, created in 2005 by Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice, it has intensely increased the number of immigration prosecutions, being the main element behind the increase of private prisons, fed by the mass kangaroo courts set up to keep them fed.
The only way to address this is to look at the underlying causes behind it, rather than continuing to enrich the private prisons, and law enforcement which is all too eager to spend whatever tax payer money is allotted to them. In the darkest of ironies, the very land that migrants have to sneak into today once was all land under the flag of Mexico, until America's 19th century ideology of Manifest Destiny drove out Mexicans from their homeland. Racist ideology trumped what are laughably called traditional American values, but then if one knows their American history well enough, they'd recall the same was done to Native Americans. 1994's NAFTA, with it's heavily subsidized US crops flooded the Mexican market place, drove production down, and consumer prices up. NAFTA was supposed to drive down the problem of illegal immigration, but by crushing Mexico's small businesses and farmers, it only wound up achieving the opposite of what it supposedly was setting out to curb.
The neoliberalism behind NAFTA was responsible for putting 2 million small farmers out of business, sending them to the US to try to survive. Thanks to NAFTA 22 million Mexicans live in food poverty, out of a nation of 122 million, and illegal immigration has been pushed up by these cruel economic policies. Low intensity warfare doctrine is now being used in a border war zone, where there is no declared war except for the failed War on Drugs.
A dichotomy of one side being good, and the other bad has crept in because of this militarization of the border, and the narco economy of Mexico has only pushed many more Mexicans out, many times from the frightening level of violence.
Just as frightening though has been the level of violence shown by the border patrol, which stands accused by human rights groups of murdering many migrants, including the well known case of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, an innocent 16 year old who was only walking home from basketball practice, when a border patrol agent shot him 10 times, 8 of those shots being in the back. Officially, since 2010, 28 people have been killed by border agents, 9 of those supposedly justified by the dead having supposedly thrown rocks. The justice system unbelievably condones these wrongful/extra-judicial killings as much as many of the unlawful killings of inner city blacks. There is also rampant brutality, and sometimes even sexual assault, which begs the question, who is going to protect the innocents from the police?
Then you have the many times racist militias who actually go out and hunt for immigrants, so the whole situation is no better than what it was like in war torn Bosnia back in the 1990s, or even the North of Ireland at the heighth of "The Troubles." It has much to do with American economic interests exploiting the Mexican people, while wanting to literally keep them in their place. If once American politicians force a reforming of the unfair economic agreements, and end the ridiculous, and hypocritical War on Drugs, will there possibly be a chance of things getting better.
Most Mexicans, Central and South Americans that cross illegally into the US for work, do so only out of desperation from America having economically devastated their countries, with a litany of CIA backed coup d'etats, and US backed military dictatorships. Not to forget that it was the US armed forces that taught so many of the death squads in Latin and South America, now extending all the way over to Iraq.
People who are already poor, and having suffered such great grief from being devastated socio-economically don't deserve to be treated like slaves, nor treated worse than dogs, or killed with such impunity. The products of these American corporate giants are put together on the backs of an already exploited people, yet the priority is to get these products to consumers faster, rather than redressing the problems that are caused by this sheer lunacy.
Donald Trump is but the latest jerk to be stirring up American voters with ethnocentrism and racial stereotypes, choosing to portray people of Spanish origin as criminals, rapists, and as Trump said, maybe a few good people. In fact it is we, the American people, mainly the white ones, who have it wrong, with the shoe actually being on the other foot. The perennial ugly American is what the world gets at Trump rallies, besides a side of bigotry and fascism.
If there is ever to be any social justice Americans need to take a long good hard look at themselves before making any judgments upon other people, especially the ones we have exploited and caused the deaths of in the millions, since just 9/11. If Trump makes it in, then there will likely continue to be a rise in the neo-Nazi far right wing parties in Europe too, which would spell a disaster for democracy here and there. Talk about a perfect mixture for a third world war, and all compliments of electorates that aren't well educated enough to realize how it is really their own governments, and elites who are behind the serious woes of the world. Sure, we ought to instead blame it on the wrong people of course, or, maybe, if enough of us finally wake up, we'll head off the total enslavement of humanity.