PLOWSHARE PEACE AND JUSTICE CENTER STATEMENT ON BORDER SECURITY, MEDIA FAILURE AND U.S. MEDDLING PRACTICES
In the media’s obsession with ‘who most owns the shutdown’ and the chess moves being made by President Trump and the congressional leaders of both parties, what is often lost in the clamor is an ingrained and deep-seated prejudice of white supremacy and privilege that guides American policy decisions regarding other peoples and their governments. This deep-seated racism is in play with idea of the border wall. At the heart of this manufactured ‘crisis’ is not the mechanics, feasibility, cost, or wisdom of building a southern border wall, but the profoundly racist mindset that exists in America and wants to ‘make America white again’ which is the subtext of the Make America Great Again mantra.
It is easy to compile facts that undercut the Administration’s fear-mongering exaggerations and outright untruths about hordes of brown-skinned criminals ‘invading’ from the south to murder and rape white Americans. This fear-mongering belies the fact that over forty percent of illegal immigrants came into the country legally and simply overstayed their visas. What is not widely reported is that most of these overstayers are actually Canadians. What is also often overlooked, and very important, is to distinguish between illegal border crossings and immigrants lawfully presenting themselves at southern ports of entry in order to apply for asylum. Most of those entering at the southern border today are requesting asylum as refugees, which means that they are not illegal at all. In addition, supporters of the President’s contention that those entering from the south are criminals, and even terrorists, fail to acknowledge that the crime rate for immigrants from Mexico and Central America, whether legal or illegal, is far lower than the crime rate of natural-born Americans. And, further, that the number of immigrants coming into the United States across the southern border has been steadily declining for nearly twenty years; in fact, more of these immigrants today are remaining in Mexico or returning to their own countries of origin rather than entering the U.S. In short, much of President’s rationale for declaring a ‘crisis’ at the southern border is simply not true.
More importantly, our mainstream media provides little to no historical context for understanding why immigrants from Central America may be seeking asylum at this time. Nor does our media adequately of cultural considerations, or the effects on the environment and wildlife migrations. What is almost never reported is the fact that most of these asylum seekers are fleeing dire situations in their own countries that are, in large measure, the result of American policies in countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where U.S. operatives have supported governments that seized power illegally and have condoned or even participated in violence against their poorest and most vulnerable citizens. The fact is that the U.S. interferes in the political process of countless nations across the world.
In 1998, the CIA declassified a report by its inspector general regarding what the CIA was doing in Honduras as part of the Reagan administration’s meddling in Central America in the previous decade. The Honduran military had been freed up to make war on its own people so that our government could keep using the country as a staging area for the region – using Honduras to initiate violence in Guatemala and El Salvador for the purpose of initiating it in Nicaragua. More than $1 billion in U.S. taxpayers’ money flowed to the Honduran military throughout the 1980s. That support continued for decades, becoming bipartisan, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported the coup that led to the present chaos and brutal repression in that country. After the 2009 coup against Manuel Zelaya, Hillary Clinton and President Obama refused to call it a coup, even after the U.S. ambassador to Honduras reported it as such. This happened so that our government could protect both American business and military interests in Honduras. Sadly, this has been all too typical of our government’s interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and frequently has had disastrous effects on the citizens of those countries – creating refugees.
The story of our government’s interference in Honduras to support the coup that removed a democratically elected president, benefitting corporations who were exploiting resources and workers there, has rarely been fully reported by our media, and the perpetrators have never been punished. Our government’s actions in the region have contributed to the right-wing crackdowns, the rise of the drug cartels, and extremist violence that has led directly to the desperate action of ‘the caravan’ people to abandon their homes and walk over 2,000 miles north for three months to escape violence and death threats.
But most Americans do not know any of the bitter history of US meddling in Central American countries. Even those who oppose the wall and hate ‘everything Trump’ rarely mention how our own government’s actions have contributed to the movement of refugees to the southern border. These are desperate people, not criminals.
The moral value of welcoming and respecting the stranger is at the heart of our religious traditions and national values. Our Statue of Liberty reminds us to welcome the tired, the poor and those seeking refuge and a life free from violence and oppression. Plowshare Peace and Justice Center calls upon our medias to do a better job of informing and preparing us to be appropriately involved in policy making and we call upon our fellow Americans to heed our best traditions and values in determining policy on border security while recognizing that our own policies have contributed to our border situation today.
From Plowshare Peace and Justice Center. For information or to support our work: Office: 505 Day Av. Roanoke VA 24015 , Mail: PO Box 4367, Roanoke VA 24015, Facebook page at “Plowshare Peace & Justice Center”, Facebook group at “Plowshare Peace Center”, firstname.lastname@example.org