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Connecticut Advocates: Scare Tactics On Refugees Miss The Point

The U.S.-Mexico border fence near El Paso, Texas.
The U.S.-Mexico border fence near El Paso, Texas.

Thousands of migrants from Central America are making their way to the U.S. border. The publicity over the caravan has prompted President Donald Trump to stir up fears over immigration. But one refugee resettlement organization is encouraging people to look beyond the headlines. 

Trump said there will be repercussions for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador for not preventing an estimated 7,000 migrants from leaving their countries and attempting to come to the U.S. And with midterm elections just around the corner, Trump is blaming Democrats for not supporting tougher border measures and immigration laws.

Ann O’Brien, from Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven, said it’s not about politics.

“Families are fleeing persecution,” O’Brien said. “We view these folks for the exact reasons that we know our own families would only leave their homes, would only walk with children on their backs through 90 degree heat if what was going on at home was far more dangerous than walking into the unknown.”

Trump has vowed to cut off or reduce federal aid to those countries that have been unable to stop migrants from fleeing. O’Brien said that will only make things worse.

“There will be organizations that had been reaching out to these families that will no longer be there to help them,” O’Brien said. “And so it will spiral. There will be more violence. He is not understanding the complex factors that cause people to leave their homes.”

And despite the recent publicity, the crisis is not new. O’Brien points out that it’s not just this group, this month or this year. It’s been going on for decades.

She said no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, few people believe in having wide open borders. She said the U.S. should rely on the laws and processes in place to manage asylum seekers.

Copyright 2018 Connecticut Public