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Stop Calling Asylum Seekers ‘Illegal Immigrants’

By Zachary J. Guiod

Immigration is something that is talked about very often in America. Many people feel that it is one of the core problems facing our country and believe that illegal immigrants are rushing the border and bringing with them all sorts of problems. You’ll hear this from cable news pundits, senators and congressmen, and of course from our President’s Twitter account. However, this is not true, because many of the people coming to America are seeking asylum. Just because a human being has crossed the imaginary line separating the United States from Mexico, does not make them an “illegal immigrant.”

It is understandable why many Americans think that it does. Our education system and our media does a terrible job of educating us. The politicians currently in power don’t help either. To paraphrase federal officials like Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions: “We are a nation of laws! We can’t have immigrants breaking the rules and crossing the border wherever they feel like.”

However, it is not illegal for immigrants who are seeking asylum to cross the imaginary line so many feel is important. It is completely legal under both U.S. law and international law for anyone to seek asylum if they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country, and most of those crossing the border do.

Let’s put immigration law to the side for a moment and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Imagine being a citizen of Honduras. You are most likely living in poverty with minimal knowledge about immigration laws and simply don’t know how to apply for citizenship the “right way.” Violence constantly surrounds you and you fear for your life on a daily basis.  There is an average of 20 homicides per day.  Maybe you have children and want nothing more for them to grow up away from the cycle of poverty and violence you have dealt with your whole life. Wouldn’t you leave your country and cross an imaginary line if it meant that you and your family could live without constant fear of death?

We also are a nation of immigrants, people who fled their home countries because of the persecution they were facing back home. Why is it that it was so great for our ancestors to seek a better life but current immigrants are called “illegals” for doing the same exact thing?

Part of the reason is the culture of white supremacy that still lingers in our country to this day. Let’s face it, if immigrants were coming from Scandinavian countries, there wouldn’t be nearly as much opposition. Regardless of whether you are in favor of immigrants coming to America or you want to build a wall, stop labeling people who are fleeing violence you can’t imagine “illegals.” Many of these immigrants are seeking asylum, and crossing the border doesn’t make them illegal.

 

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