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What Are We Doing?

June 26, 2019

This rips at the heart.


From today’s Boston Globe.

Her father tucked her inside his T-shirt and she clung to him, her tiny arm wrapped around his neck, but the raging waters carried them away as they tried to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico to Brownsville, Texas. The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, were found washed up in Matamoros, Mexico, earlier this week. His wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, told Mexican authorities she watched her husband and child disappear in the strong current. (This photograph was first published in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.)

What are we doing?

This family is from El Salvador, the deadliest place in the world that is not a war zone. It’s a truly horrific place to live. Gangs operate with impunity in at least 247 of the country’s 262 municipalities.

They terrorize the multitude of neighborhoods they control, according to Human Rights Watch, forcibly recruiting children and subjecting many women, girls, and LGBT individuals to sexual slavery. If you resist, you will be killed, raped, or — if you’re lucky — simply kicked out of your home.

They brutally engage in extortion, human smuggling, and drug trafficking.

What are we doing?

About 33 percent of Salvadorans live in poverty, which the World Bank defines as income of less than $5.50 a day. Average per capita income is $324 a month.

What are we doing?

For two months, the Ramírez family had been waiting in an overcrowded migrant detention camp in Mexico that didn’t have enough food and in blistering heat of more than 110 degrees. They wanted to make an asylum claim to enter the United States legally, but ran smack up against Trump’s “metering” policy, under which border officials have slashed the number of asylum claims they process each day, from dozens to just a handful. The result is a huge spike in the number of people trying to cross the border between ports of entry.

According to the Associated Press, two babies, a toddler, and a woman were found dead on Sunday, overcome by the sweltering heat. Three children and an adult from Honduras died in April after their raft capsized on the Rio Grande. A 6-year-old from India was found dead earlier this month in Arizona, where temperatures routinely soar well above 100 degrees.

What are we doing?

Crushed by poverty and terrorized by gangs, desperate migrants like the Ramírez family look longingly to their rich northern neighbor, willing to risk their lives on a dangerous, uncertain journey because the certain alternative at home is so much worse. They believed in the promise of America.

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