The images went viral on social media at the speed of light.
Mounted Border Patrol agents rammed their horses into a small group of undocumented immigrants, impoverished Haitian families seeking to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico, seeking asylum in the United States, a land of migrants.
In the immediate vicinity of the incident, another border agent, whip in hand, was pulling his shirt at a young black immigrant, who was walking barefoot on the side of a hill to try to enter the United States in search of refuge.
The images are disturbing. A group of fragile human beings trying to be cornered like animals. Among the small group of Haitian migrants were women and minors with a height that barely exceeded the knees of horses.
Like the images of a Mexican border agent in Chiapas, who trampled on the head of a Haitian immigrant to try to stop his entry into Mexican territory, it is impossible not to feel shocked by the cruel treatment that other human beings can inflict on some of the most vulnerable among us.
It is true that all countries enjoy the right to preserve the integrity of their borders and to define migration policy that reflects their national interests. But respect for human rights is a universal prerogative and no one has the authority to violate them without paying the moral and legal consequences.
The first reactions of the governments of the United States and Mexico were necessary: to carry out an investigation of the incidents, to denounce the actions of their agents as aberrations and to define responsibilities. If the border agents in the two incidents did not act on superior orders, or their actions were not part of any official protocol, they should be separated from their positions.
The scenes are sadly only the tip of a migrating Iceberg that continues to grow. Another 12,000 immigrants, most of them Haitians, continue to be crammed under the international bridge in Del Rey, Texas. The United States launched their repatriation, but returning them to their country of origin does not represent a lasting solution to the problem.
And the United States continues to send mixed messages to the world. The real solution to the problem of migratory displacement has to do with improving living conditions in countries that send migrants, but also with the existence of realistic routes to legally migrate to the United States.
Under certain visa categories, legal migration from the United States to Mexico by Mexican citizens can take more than 100 years.
And just when the possibility of immigration reform was closer than ever, a parliamentary technicality prevented it from being voted on.
The United States boasts of its exceptionalism. But this is little to brag about while maintaining an immigration policy that allows millions of essential undocumented workers to put food on our table and live as second-class people, without routes to legalize themselves, and that does not adopt a humane and dignified policy for those who seek refuge.
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