As a group of asylum seekers peacefully marched towards the U.S. border on Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border agents fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them in an inhumane attempt to prevent them from entering the country. This policy is a blatant violation of human rights that must be condemned. In fact, multiple groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have spoken out against the use of tear gas, citing the damage it can have on people’s health. Dr. Sural Shah, one of our clinician evaluators at LAHRI, has written an op-ed sharing poignant stories from her evaluation experiences while strongly condemning the use of tear gas, the “new low in our country’s persecution of our fellow human beings.” Unfortunately, even the refugees and asylum seekers who have entered the U.S. are still not safe. Instead, reports of abuse at detention centers have been prevalent. Despite opposition from many, our government still defends its deplorable treatment of asylum and refugee seekers and even pledges to use tear gas again if necessary.
As fellow human beings, we must advocate for the rights of people who are fleeing danger and persecution and seeking asylum/refugee. A few ways you can take action include joining peaceful protests (such as the Stop the Tears Campaign this weekend), educating yourself and others on the issue, writing/signing petitions, contacting your Representatives/Senators to voice your opposition, donating to organizations (such as Physicians for Human Rights) that help families and individuals at the border seek justice, and/or volunteering with us at the LAHRI to help out with pro bono forensic evaluations for asylum seekers.
Averbuch M and Malkin E. (November 25 2018). Migrants in Tijuana run to US border but fall back in face of tear gas. NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/25/world/americas/tijuana-mexico-border.html
Kraft CA. (November 26 2018). AAP statement in response to tear gas being used against children at the US southern border. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Statement-in-Response-to-Tear-Gas-Being-Used-Against-Children-at-the-U-S-Southern-Border.aspx
Dakwar J. (November 28 2018). Tear gas should never have been used at the border. It doesn’t belong at protests, either. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/11/28/tear-gas-should-never-have-been-used-border-it-doesnt-belong-protests-either/?utm_term=.4ec7bf4e8ea4
Shah S. (November 26 2018). Tear-gassing at the border. NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/opinion/letters/migrants-tijuana.html?fbclid=IwAR1QtPxF-hGitnNYV3MgGlxt5eHTLpX-sf67g4lmEYz_8oxsj6DM7CfICfM
Bidgood J, Fernandez M, and Fausset R. Restraint chairs and spit masks: Migrant detainees claim abuse at detention centers. NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/04/us/migrant-children-detention-centers.html
Kassle E. (July 17 2018). Sexual assault inside ICE detention: 2 survivors tell their stories. NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/17/us/sexual-assault-ice-detention-survivor-stories.html
Garcia SE. (November 27 2018). Independent autopsy of transgender asylum seeker who died in ICE custody shows signs of abuse. NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/us/trans-woman-roxsana-hernandez-ice-autopsy.html