President Donald Trump declared a national emergency last Friday in order to obtain his request for $5 billion to fund his plan for a border wall, after receiving only $1.6 billion. Although Trump has stated on several occasions that the issue has become a crisis of national security, there is nothing to show that the alleged crisis even existed prior to his attacks on immigrants.
People crossing the border illegally have been steadily declining over the last decade, with 2017 holding the lowest amount of arrests made since 1971, according to statistics provided by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to the New York Times. Estimates made by the Department of Homeland Security show that undetected border crossings have decreased from over 800,000 in 2006 to only about 62,000 in 2016.
However, claims for asylum across the South West border have increased from 2017, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Over 38,000 immigrants have requested asylum in 2018, as opposed to the 17,000 in 2017, with many of the requests coming from families who fear for their safety based upon discrimination in regards to race, religion, nationality, politics and social status. Fear of gang violence and domestic abuse have also been major issues.
With that being said, it is obvious the only crisis we can see at the border is a humanitarian crisis; our president continues to strip immigrants of their dignity and livelihood with racist rhetoric meant to instill fear in the American people.
Having called immigrants rapists, criminals and animals, Trump has manipulated the situation in his favor as Americans across the country, oblivious to the facts, rally behind him to demand a border wall.
Asylum-seekers are facing real threats within Honduras and Central America, like gang violence, domestic abuse and persecution of transgender individuals. Trump’s dehumanizing rhetoric has resulted in rejection of asylum seekers, separation of children from their families, and the deaths of asylum seekers while in custody.
An 8-year-old Guatemalan boy in border control custody, Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, died early Christmas morning after waking up nauseous and vomiting. Prior to his death, he was misdiagnosed with a common cold and given antibiotics. Within the same month, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died of dehydration and shock after suffering a seizure while in border patrol custody.
Trump’s dehumanization of immigrants plays a part in both the carelessness behind these deaths and the justifications for them. He deployed stereotypes of immigrants as violent, inherently criminal animals as a fearmongering tactic throughout his presidency. By establishing asylum seekers as a threat, he justifies his pet project of the border wall, all the while placing asylum seekers in dehumanizing conditions while in custody. When denied the funds he wants to build the border wall, Trump declares a national emergency in order to acquire funding. It is blatantly clear that the national emergency is one of Trump’s own invention. However, the true national emergency is not one that requires a border wall, but instead a humanitarian crisis by Trump’s own hands.