On Immigration, We Must Recall A Vision To Respect Human Dignity And Basic Universal Rights [Opinion]

Immigrants along the Mexico-U.S. border put their hands around metal bars separating the two nations.
John Moore / Getty Images

The administration of President Donald Trump has had a less-than-stellar record when it comes to the issue of immigration. And that’s putting it lightly.

Since Trump took office, we have seen children separated from their families at the border, and put into cages. We have seen immigrants ripped apart from their communities — some having lived there for decades already — without due process. And earlier this week, per previous reporting from the Inquisitr, we have seen children bombarded with tear gas.

Some have tried to justify the use of tear gas by saying it was necessary to dissuade individuals who were ambushing the border, but ultimately the buck has to stop somewhere. Men, women, and children who were not trying to cross the border — who were respecting the new (and controversial) rules put into place by the Trump administration — were victims of the attack as well, according to reports from HuffPost. Whether accidental or not, the responsible party for that attack is the U.S. government itself.

Yet some on the right have celebrated that outcome. Conservative pundit Tomi Lahren called the tear-gassing of immigrants the “highlight” of her Thanksgiving weekend, according to a report from Elite Daily. Others have tried to suggest that it wasn’t a big deal, with one commentator confusing the issue and saying that pepper spray was used on immigrants. “It’s natural, you could actually put it on your nachos and eat it,” that commentator said, per a report from the Washington Post.

(For the record, that’s not exactly true: even if pepper spray was used against immigrants over the weekend, which has not been confirmed, the concentration levels of capsaicin used in the spray is too high for human consumption, according to most experts.)

What’s missing from this entire debate over the events of this weekend, however, is the discussion of basic human rights. These are people, but the way some on the right are describing immigrants, you’d think they were a despotic alien race from another planet.

Importantly, these people are also asylum seekers, and with that status they deserve certain rights to be respected. As the International Justice Resource Center points out, immigrants seeking a better life in another country are given certain protections, including the right to be given a fair hearing to determine whether their claims are legitimate or not.

Were we a more principled and moral nation, we’d look at this situation in a much better way. Despite what the president seems to tweet out, no one is suggesting that we open up our borders without any regulation, and changes to our immigration rules may need to be examined.

However, any changes — including stronger regulations, if they’re needed — require us to keep in mind that the vast majority of these individuals are families, not criminals, who are desperate enough to walk hundreds of miles away from their homes in order to provide themselves and their children a better opportunity.

America was once a beacon for those around the globe seeking opportunity. But after this weekend, it appears that this administration is willing to shatter that image in favor of a more repressive, inhospitable, and inhumane vision.