By AARON FOSTER-WILLIAMS
The constant thought of potentially being murdered is not something most Americans think about. But beyond our borders, this paranoia runs through the minds of many. Imagine living in a city where there is a chance of being disintegrated by bombs while shopping at your local market. By the way, these bombs are bring supplied from the United States military, and the people responsible live in the country right next to you.
Now put yourself in the shoes of a citizen living south of our border who constantly lives in fear from local cartel gangs. These cartel gangs specialize in brutal killings and recently directed their anger towards authorities. Groups of police officers are being ambushed by thugs with machine guns and police helicopters are swatted out of the sky like gnats.
The thought of living in one of these situations would give most people nightmares, but this is reality for some unlucky people. From “hot spot” cities in Syria to regions labeled the “Tierra Caliente” (Spanish for Hot Land) in southern Mexico, terrorist organizations have recently risen to unmatched power. Locals are living in fear and police are being outgunned by street criminals causing massive chaos. But these gangs did not become infamous overnight. A little aid from both American and European governments is what propelled these violent extremists to the global spotlight.
President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one” and initiated the War on Drugs in 1971 to combat illegal drug use in America. The harsh penalties for possessing illegal drugs was the perfect opportunity for the Mexican cartel gangs to flood the U.S. with marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. These gangs have been able to lower their price because of the high demand for illegal drugs here in America. This war is mainly benefiting cartels as they gain more power which they use to torment innocent civilians. The more we fight, the more we lose and the more lives are wrongfully taken.
Mexico continues to provide America with more immigrants than any other country. In 2014, Mexican immigrants made up 28 percent of the 42.4 million migrants that resided in the U.S. Americans have always had an issue with immigrants, specifically those here illegally. Recently, those views have shifted far-right.
Presidential contender Donald Trump made national headlines after he expressed his displeasure with illegal Mexican immigrants crossing the border. “They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us,” Trump said during a 2015 speech he gave in Phoenix. The truth is that millions of Americans also share this idea. Xenophobia spread across the country like a plague and made its way into legislation.
In 2010, Arizona enacted the controversial ant-immigration law S.B. 1070 to address the immigration issue. This law allows local Arizona police to question anyone they suspect to be living in the state illegally. Many critics of this law, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that this law is unconstitutional because it encourages law enforcement to question and detain people based on demographics rather than logic. The law allows police to racially profile people based on how they look or speak and could be easily abused in the wrong hands. Our government helped create the Mexican migrant crisis then punished those who dare crossed the border illegally. Some migrants are criminals and should not be allowed to enter the United States, but most are simply fleeing in fear for their lives.
These laws have directly affected Mexican immigration into the United States. The Washington, D.C. think tank referred to as, the Pew Research Center, presented data showing the migration trends between Mexico and America. Their research shows that since the Great Recession in 2009, more Mexicans left the country compared to those arriving here.
The Mexican migrant crisis is currently our biggest migrant problem because we share a border with our southern neighbor. But far east, there is a different migrant crisis erupting. The Middle East has been ravaged by rising terrorist groups such as ISIS. They instill fear in civilians by kidnapping and killing innocent citizens. Just like the Mexican cartels, ISIS’ rise to fame is the result of the United States and the United Kingdom’s foreign policy.
Many neoconservatives urged Congress to invade Iraq and other Middle East countries for opportunities to impose American hegemony on these countries. Richard Perle, an American lobbyist and political advisor, along other far-right republicans had their sights set on toppling Saddam Hussein for decades. All they needed was the perfect time to strike.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, it was inevitable that we would be invading the Middle East. As more tensions rose, our government decided in Spring 2003 that it would be in the nation’s best interest to invade Iraq. As bombs rained down over Baghdad, many civilian infrastructures were destroyed. A women’s maternity hospital was just one of many targets hit during military operations. The United States claimed the hospital bombing was “collateral damage” in efforts to kill insurgents. Civilian facilities had also been bombed previously during Operation Desert Storm. George Bush Sr. stood by his attacks on an infant formula production plant claiming the factory was producing biological weapons.
The destabilization of Middle Eastern countries left a gaping hole in which ISIS quickly filled. In a 2014 interview, former UK foreign secretary David Miliband told the Manhattan-based newspaper the Observer, “It’s clearly the case that the invasion of Iraq, or more importantly what happened afterwards, is a significant factor in understanding the current situation in the country.” American politics, with help from their allies, created a prime opportunity for terrorist organizations in the Middle East to thrive.
Similar to the Mexican cartels, the Islamic State uses methods of intimidation on the local communities. Their victims are usually civilian women and Christians. They also use the media to broadcast themselves decapitating kidnapped American journalists. The extreme violence between the bombings and ISIS is forcing locals to flee the country for safety. In America, far-right conservatives urge for anti-immigration legislation to keep migrants from entering the country. These same techniques will be used in Europe to keep refugees at bay.
Neo-Nazi groups in Germany and other European countries are starting to gain popularity. Similar to the republicans here in America, the far-right groups in Europe advocate for anti-immigration assimilation. In efforts to stop the rising popularity of hate groups, Germany has banned one of these organizations. But other European countries are not as friendly as Germany when it comes to the migrant crisis.
Some European countries are forced to deal with the migrant crisis while simultaneously going through a financial crisis. As Greece habitually falls into recessions, they are being used by migrants as the doorway to Europe. Most people are traveling north via the Balkan Route to Germany where most of the migrant population will be resettled.
Many neighboring countries have closed their borders to these migrants leaving them stranded. This is creating many human rights violations as people are left homeless and nowhere to go. Recently the Balkan Route was permanently closed and thousands of migrants were deserted in camps. Shortly after on April 10, Macedonian police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of refugees in a clash at the Greece- Macedonian border. The border was recently met with strict restrictions to migrants fleeing their homelands.
The migrant crisis is a collection of different issues, mashed into one giant problem. As we continue to avoid and neglect the people whose homes we destroyed, animosity between migrants and citizens brews. There are organizations that provide help, but it is clearly not enough. A solution must be made before the crisis completely spirals out of control.