By Zhong Sheng
The U.S. practice of detaining illegal migrants at holding cells with poor and unpleasant conditions has seriously violated the human rights of the individuals and is triggering wide concern from the international society.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. border authorities arrested 210,000 migrants attempting to cross the border with Mexico in March, the highest monthly total since March 2000, and another over 200,000 were apprehended in the following month.
The abuse of asylum seekers by American law enforcement officials have led to exacerbating humanitarian crisis at the borders.
According to The New York Times, U.S. authorities arrested apprehended 1.7 million illegal migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border in the fiscal year 2021, the biggest amount recorded since at least 1960.
Additionally, the violence of U.S. law enforcement officers is upgrading. For instance, U.S. border agents on horseback were seen chasing Haitian migrants back to a river in a footage exposed last September.
The detention facilities for illegal migrants in the U.S. were mostly built by private companies. As a result of the terrible living circumstances and lack of oversight, human rights abuses are prevalent.
According to official data released by the U.S., 557 deaths of migrants were recorded at the southern border in the fiscal year 2021. The figure was more than double that of a year earlier and the highest since relevant statistics were recorded in 1998. Some media outlets said the true figure might be larger than what had been reported.
The violations of illegal migrant children’s human rights by U.S. law enforcement departments were even more astonishing.
The last U.S. administration adopted a “family separation” policy for illegal migrants, which resulted in the separation of vast numbers of children from their parents. As a result, many children are still looking for their parents today.
Despite public pressure for the U.S. government to put an end to the policy, the U.S. did not significantly change its treatment of illegal migrant children.
USA Today said in an article published last November that after the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government, citing relevant terms in the public health law, attempted to evict all the migrants and refugees seeking to cross the border, which was literally a 2.0 version of the “family separation” policy.
Statistics indicate that among the 266,000 migrant children detained by the U.S., 25,000 have been detained for more than 100 days. The relevant detention facilities operate under chaotic management with frequent abuses, forced labor, and other violations of human rights. The children held in custody are suffering from serious physical and mental trauma.
The issue of illegal migrants faced by the U.S., is to a large extent, an outcome of the country’s long-term hegemonic practice. In the nearly 200 years since the Monroe Doctrine was adopted, the U.S. has had over 30 cases of military intervention in Latin American countries, which placed the latter in lasting turbulence and poverty.
The U.S. newspaper Liberation said many migrants arriving at the U.S. border are “double victims” of the U.S. policy. They fled the violence and coups supported by the U.S., but when they arrived in the U.S., they went through violent arrests, imprison, and sex assault.
What the newspaper said profoundly reveals the historical and realistic responsibility that the U.S. has to take regarding the migrant issue. The country refuses to tackle the problem at the source and fulfill its promise of supporting the development of regional countries for solving the migrant issue. On the contrary, it is asking Latin American countries to be responsible.
Such a negative attitude has triggered criticism from regional countries. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has once expressed his dissatisfaction with the U.S. attitude.
The U.S. government’s politicizing of migrant policy is also one of the major reasons for the migrant crisis. To pander to the voters, the last U.S. administration adopted harsh migrant policy and built walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. The incumbent administration once promised to roll out an ordered and humane migrant policy, but it broke its promise to end removal orders just 8 months after it came into power.
Given the upcoming U.S. midterm elections, the migrant issue will once again become a bargain chip for the Republicans and Democrats. The Journal of Politics of the U.S. noted that the issue of migrants is just a political tool of American politicians. The Republicans and Democrats, placing their political interests above humanitarianism, have made migrants pawns on their political chessboard.
The cruel treatment of illegal migrants, who have already been in a very hard position, reveals the hypocrisy of the U.S. that claims to be a “human rights guardian.”
Facing international concerns, the White House should adopt responsible measures, practically protect migrants’ rights to life and health, as well as other basic human rights, and fulfill its promises made to regional countries, so as to avoid more humanitarian tragedies.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)