Human Rights Watch recently released a report detailing 138 cases of people who were deported after seeking asylum in the United States, only to be killed, raped, severely beaten and/or enslaved.
Let’s break this down.
First, the cases in the report are restricted to El Salvador. People seeking asylum from Honduras, Mexico and other countries were not included, despite many people from those countries numbering among those seeking asylum. It’s very easy to extrapolate from that that violence has befallen far more than the 138. Still, let’s stick to the facts and keep that aside for the moment.
Next, one can theorize that only those who were directly tracked via Human Rights Watch were legitimately in danger; that, rather than grab a sample, HRW was somehow not bound by their limited resources and instead followed every person who was likely to come to a bad end when returned.
Those two possibilities are unlikely in the extreme. One factor which does carry some measure of probability is that HRW did not grab a representative sample of those deported, and instead focused on those whose stories of risk seemed most plausible. Let’s set that aside as well.
The fact remains that, if HRW is to be believed (and their track record speaks of bias, not dishonesty, for the perceived underdog) there have been more than a hundred instances of brutality to those who have sought asylum in the United States, specifically due to the rules set in place by the Trump administration against asylum seekers.
Mistakes will be made, and some tragic events are always going to happen. But let’s look at that for a moment. Bringing back one of the topics we’ve placed aside, Human Rights Watch – a group with considerably fewer resources than the American government – was able to identify these cases as resulting in probable violence for the seeker; in other words, they were able to recognize these as valid pleas for asylum. Even taking into account standard governmental incompetence and bureaucratic errors, it is unreasonable to believe that the government is systematically failing like this, particularly when policy advocates for these results. This is not the failing of a judge or two, this is intentional rejection of valid asylum pleas.
Attending to the usual claims of gang infiltration, let’s look at one of the sample cases:
In 2010, when he was 17, Javier B. fled gang recruitment and his particularly violent neighborhood for the United States, where his mother, Jennifer B., had already fled. Javier was denied asylum and was deported in approximately March 2017, when he was 23 years old. Jennifer said Javier was killed four months later while living with his grandmother: “That’s actually where they [the gang, MS-13 (or Mara Salvatrucha-13)] killed him.… It’s terrible. They got him from the house at 11:00 a.m. They saw his tattoos. I knew they’d kill him for his tattoos. That is exactly what happened.… The problem was with [the gang] MS [-13], not with the police.” (According to Human Rights Watch’s research, having tattoos may be a source of concern, even if the tattoo is not gang-related).Human Rights Watch
This was exactly the reverse of what is typically claimed by those supporting the unusual restrictions on asylum. It supported the gangs, and directly resulted in the death of someone who rejected them.
Note, this is only addressing asylum cases, not standard immigration policy which has its own set of issues. Asylum is for people who are facing devastating consequences if they return. The argument for many is that the asylum rules are being abused by those who simply wish to move to a country where they can work hard and better themselves. While that seems to be directly in line with what the American Dream is all about, many self-defined patriots fully reject the idea today. But even their argument is flawed, as HRW demonstrates.
And again, let’s call back in those other set-aside notions for the moment… because they are, as mentioned, extremely improbable. The fact is that there are likely thousands of such people being sent back to instances of rape, murder, enslavement and torture simply because of fears that they are somehow culturally invasive. The contradictory arguments of “they’ll take our jobs” and “they just want to leech off the system” will be voiced by many as an effort to hide their simple distaste for people whose dominant tongue is Spanish.
These are, in many cases, the people who also define themselves as “pro-life”. If they are to truly be pro-life or patriotic, they need to mobilize against the administration’s asylum policy.