The Crisis at the Border

Jace Boland, Columnist

Ningún ser humano es ilegal. No human being is illegal. The phrase has been adopted by activists across the country. With an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, it’s hard to separate yourself from them. They are your neighbors, your friends, your classmates, maybe your parents or grandparents. Maybe even you. Regardless of your citizenship status, the label of ‘illegal’ should never be placed on a person. When a person trespasses on private property, do we call them illegal? Not that a misdemeanor is comparable to making a perilous journey into an unwelcoming foreign land. The fact that possible death by starvation or heat exhaustion in the miles of unforgiving desert at the border is preferable to whatever they’re leaving behind them should be enough reason to open our doors. Not to mention risking las hieleras, the frigid holding cells in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers where your clothes, food, and family can be stripped from you at any time. 


Horror stories of severe neglect in ICE detention centers have been on the news for years. Children jailed separately from their parents and left to die from curable diseases, officials refusing to vaccinate migrants during flu season, reports from detained women that “they were told to drink from toilet bowls due to a lack of running water,” according to American Oversight. What I find unbelievable is that this is public knowledge, and people continue to stay silent, or even worse, they believe it’s justified somehow. “Thugs,” Donald Trump said of undocumented immigrants, the victims of these facilities. “Rapists.” “These aren’t people, these are animals.” 74 million Americans backed this rhetoric in the 2020 elections. White America has gotten so comfortable, so drunk on power and a sense of self-righteousness that it’s willing to blatantly admit it sees people of color as less than human. 


My mother immigrated to the United States from Khartoum, Sudan in the late 1990s. She was twenty-something, educated, incredibly bright, and pursuing graduate studies. She didn’t become a citizen until well after I was born, but she has been fluent in English since she was young. Some people might say she came here “the right way.” But in reality? She got lucky. She got lucky that she knew the language, she had an education, and there was no 100,000 square mile hell she had to run through to get here. My family has no more right to be here than any family at the border. You shouldn’t have to have to prove yourself just to find asylum. A chance for your children to live shouldn’t be conditional.

White America gained control of this land through bloodshed, and claim ownership because of it. What does it say that the self-proclaimed ‘greatest nation in the world,’ the only world superpower, defends their right to rule solely because of the violent acts they committed to attain it? The genocide of over 100 million people on their own land is ‘American history,’ but the concept of innocent people escaping violence is unthinkable? This raises the question: how can you decide who gets to live on land that isn’t yours in the first place? You can’t be ‘illegal’ under a government of murderers and colonizers. You can’t be ‘illegal’ on stolen land.