After a visit to the US-Mexico border to meet with migrants, asylum-seekers, and service organizations involved in the humanitarian response in Tijuana with Oxfam Mexico Executive Director Ricardo Fuentes Nieva, Oxfam America’s President, Abby Maxman, made the following statement:
“My visit to Tijuana showed me clearly that the current crisis at the US-Mexico border is nothing more than a manufactured PR stunt by President Trump. The fight over the wall is politics at its absolute worst, exploiting the pain of innocent women, men, and children instead of addressing them with humane policies.
In Tijuana, I saw first-hand the consequences of the Trump Administration’s reckless policies. The backlog of asylum claims is creating a bottleneck in Tijuana, exhausting shelter and municipal resources to the brink and endangering people’s lives, particularly vulnerable groups such as LGBTQ migrants and unaccompanied minors. Mexican social service organizations are responding heroically but are stretched to a breaking point, having to provide for the uptick in migrants as well as deportees from the US. Shelters are at full capacity and people are falling through the cracks, leaving them on the streets and in clear danger. Just weeks ago, two young men were murdered in Tijuana as they sought protection in the US.
But I was also inspired by stories of people seeking the land of opportunity that is our country. The migrants I met in Tijuana are no different than the people who first built our country and what generations of Americans have done: arrive with aspirations to build a better life, hope to live in peace and freedom, allowing their children to thrive, and contribute to our economy. We should live up to our legacy as a welcoming nation that was built on the hard work of immigrants, rather than demonize and criminalize them.
The fact is that those arriving at our southern border are not bringing violence, they are fleeing it.
The President’s own border visit and his continued insistence on throwing billions of dollars at a symbolic and unnecessary wall is intentionally distracting from the real crisis happening right now: thousands of Central Americans are forced to flee their homes because of violence, criminal gangs, instability, poverty, and economic hardship. Building a wall and militarizing the border will do absolutely nothing to address the real reasons people flee Central America in the first place.
We need an immigration policy for the 21st century, not the 12th century. Investing in sensible and humane border security through increased investments to process asylum claims, with well-trained and equipped staff and social services, will address the humanitarian needs of those arriving at the border, fulfill the US government’s legal obligations, and prove the US is actually serious about addressing migration from Central America. It’s an investment with long-term benefits for all.
President Trump continues to cite the humanitarian crisis, diverting attention from the fact that the real humanitarian needs are the direct result of this Administration’s heartless and illegal policies. The separation of children from their parents, the detention of migrant families, measures to prevent asylum-seekers from making their claims, and the failure to address the root causes of Central American migration are making things much, much worse.”