By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
The summer before my husband and I moved to Mexico to start a school at an orphanage, 43 people were found dead in the back of a truck down in the arroyo below the facility, abandoned by the coyotes who had trafficked them. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to bake to death in a container that became an oven when you thought you were on your way to freedom, albeit illegally. When we would wait in line for hours to cross the border at various points in Juarez, if we were not going to El Paso only, there were also additional checkpoints where we were stopped and checked to see if we were transporting illegal entrants. Because we had a huge bread truck that carried Steve’s mobile cabinet shop in it, that was a given; we understood, we planned for it, we didn’t mind.
A little over a week ago, a man who had been the recipient of an impotent “catch-and-release” policy, was here illegally and deported four times, shot and killed his neighbors, including a nine-year-old boy because they asked him to please stop shooting his gun so a baby could sleep. He was later found hiding under a pile of laundry in a closet. Hopefully his career of utterly disregarding life and the law is finally over.
In between the horror stories of deception and death at the border, you have people who want to come to the States illegally for all manner of reasons, only to be siphoned into slavery. No sane person will dispute the fact that something has to be done at our virtually non-existent border. Perhaps the recent agreement struck between Mexico and the U.S. to set up centers where people can begin some semblance of applying for legal entry before they come across is a step in the right direction. It doesn’t hurt that 1500 more troops have been sent essentially to send a signal on even a paltry level that perhaps we actually mean it when we say, “You are welcome here if you mean us no harm, and you have to respect our laws if you are going to be in America.” God bless our soldiers for protecting us.
The point of this piece is to clarify the fact that sending troops to the border has been done by both Democratic and Republican administrations and has been going on for decades. Starting in 2006, thousands of troops have been deployed and rotated to the border, and there was no outcry, as has been alleged by some, that we are “militarizing the border,” and “sending the wrong message.” It is also to ask a simple question: “Why now?” Yes, I get it that Title 42, the COVID policy that was put in place ostensibly to curtail the spread of the coronavirus by reducing illegal entry, is being retired in a few days. It is expected that there will be a veritable run on the border, and I am glad that the border is at least on the surface being “beefed up.” However, it doesn’t stop me from scratching my head and wondering, “Yeah, but, why now?” And, I know I am not alone in that.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner