Faces in the Cages — How US Policies Shaped the US-Mexico Border Crisis
Images of the children, separated from their parents and huddled in detention center cages at the US-Mexico border, have shocked the world. Verified reports of these children being denied basic necessities like blankets, soap and toothbrushes have escalated the global outcry. And detained adults are not faring any better, as recently released photos and videos show.
The current humanitarian emergency at the US southern border has grown out of a long, complex history. Even if the deeply divided US government came together in a determined effort to resolve the underlying problems, doing so would take time.
But as children continue to grow sick and even die in custody, and people of all ages endure undeniably inhumane conditions, the need for immediate action is clear.
Basic facts about the people being held in US border facilities
As of July 2019, there were over 80,000 men, women and children in detention at the US southern border. So who are they, and where did they come from?
Contrary to President Trump’s infamous remarks when he announced his presidential candidacy in 2015, most people arriving at the US-Mexico border are not rapists or drug smugglers.
In reality, the vast majority of people currently suffering inside the cages fall into two main groups. Many are Mexican migrant workers, most of them male. Seeking higher wages, they attempted to enter the US without documentation and were apprehended by Border Patrol agents.
The second main group of detainees is made up of a record number of asylum seekers, who either presented themselves at legal US ports of entry, or willingly surrendered to federal agents upon crossing the border. This group includes a great many women and families seeking an escape from violence-ravaged Central American countries, especially the “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.