For many, yearning to breathe free air is a costly affair. Especially for the shabby, defeated army of migrants driven to do whatever it takes to flee their lethally distraught homelands tormented by climate change. All hunger for a better life in an infinitely safer promised land, where there’s work, food and most of all, survival!
Yet on our side of the border there’s an opposing yearn to tell those tired, poor, huddled masses to go back to “hell,” which is what the place where they came from has become, thanks to non-stop global warming! Or wait legally and interminably even if it includes sleeping in the streets of Mexico.
Migrants just got a gift from a Federal Judge who blocked Biden’s rule limiting their rights to asylum. LIMITING the rule that allowed immigration authorities to deny asylum to many immigrants who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border without first applying online or seeking protection in a country they passed through.
Okay, I admit it. I know this because I’m a news junkie. And so much of it today is about our border crisis. I read all the stories. Watch ‘em all, from the furthest left to the hardest right. From the outraged CNNer’s to the foxy FOXer’s. Why? When you follow the news, you know what are today’s most newsworthy contexts in which to insert or avoid associating your client’s messages. In vogue today is something called “content marketing.”
In public relations, we must market clients within the bounds of quality content that’s safe and enlightening, that’s of interest to a target audience and doesn’t come off as sales or blatant publicity.
Too often these days the news makes my goat alarm go off like a recent report by OSV News and a headline in Florida Catholic Media about groups condemning as “inhumane” the treatment of migrants illegally crossing the Texas border into the U.S.? OMG, are we really denying them water in this heat?
Then I see stories on AP and ABC News about wrecking ball-sized buoys strung across the Rio Grande River near the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, to block the influx of migrants from Mexico.
So are immigrants, once a blessing in earlier times, now so bad for our economy we need to repulse them as if they were an invading army?
Not if you read the 2017 National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report, “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration.” It found that, although immigrants tend to earn less than native-born workers and are therefore a bit more costly to government, their children exhibit unusually high levels of upward mobility and “are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the population.” For a country with an aging labor force, like the U.S., “immigration can act like Botox for the welfare state, temporarily making the math of paying for promised benefits, like Social Security and Medicare, less daunting,” writes Idrees Kahloon in The New Yorker.
So, the Justice Department tells Texas the floating barrier violates federal law and raises humanitarian concerns for migrants, but Texas Governor Greg Abbott fires back in a tweet: “Texas has the sovereign authority to defend our border.”
Then I see in a news report this photo of Asylum-seeking migrants’ families from back in April 2021 going under a barbed wire fence. A local church group is escorting them to turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol after crossing Rio Grande River into the United States from Mexico.
Today Catholic and human rights organizations are reacting not to April 2021, but to July 2023 reports that Texas authorities are alleged to be employing “inhumane” tactics against migrants and asylum seekers along the Rio Grande.
Catholic migrant advocates condemn the alleged inhumane treatment of migrants seeking to cross the border into Texas. They said the state had directed its personnel to withhold water from migrants despite extreme heat, a claim that got me so riled up I had to look into it.
What raised my blood pressure was reading The Houston Chronicle had reported obtaining an email this month about a trooper-medic sharing concerns with a supervisor in the Texas Department of Public Safety over the treatment of migrants at the border in Eagle Pass, Texas.
I sincerely hope that what the email suggested is untrue that troopers involved in Texas Republican Gov. Abbott’s border security initiative, Operation Lone Star, have been given a directive not to give migrants water. If true, it must be immediately reversed. Can you imagine how hot it is there?
“I believe we have stepped over a line into the inhumane,” the trooper wrote, according to this alleged report that got my goat stomping.
It’s bad enough I live in Florida where we have a governor spending millions to fly confused migrants from Texas to New York and California and other places, but now this denying them water, if true, is over the cop, I mean TOP!
Dylan Corbett, executive director of Hope Border Institute, was reported saying,
“In El Paso, there is an embarrassing spectacle of state police, guardsmen, concertina wire, additional fences and military humvees, all positioned against the most vulnerable,” and in June alone, 70 people “that we know of died crossing the border.”
Yet Gov. Abbott tweets: “No orders have been given under this mission that would compromise the lives of those attempting to cross the border illegally.”
Still, the email the Chronicle received suggested state officials have set “traps” of razor wire-wrapped barrels in high water parts of the river and low visibility. According to the Chronicle’s report, the trooper argued in the email that the wire has increased the risk of drownings by forcing migrants into deeper, more dangerous, parts of the river.
The Texas’s Department of Public Safety and Military Department said steps have been taken to “monitor migrants in distress, provide appropriate medical attention when needed, and encourage them to use one of the 29 international bridges along the Texas-Mexico Border where they can safely and legally cross.”
They said that without “these tools and strategies” in Texas’ approach to the border “including concertina wire that snags clothing” would encourage migrants to make “potentially life-threatening and illegal crossings.”
Abbott’s office stated all personnel “assigned to Operation Lone Star are prepared to detect and respond to any individuals who may need water or medical attention.” I sure hope so. Texas said it will continue protecting Texans and Americans from the chaos along the border until President Biden reverses his open border policies and does his job to secure the border.
In a press statement, Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said “These are Christian refugees, women and children seeking asylum and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. What would Jesus say about such treatment of the most vulnerable in society?”
Tom Madden is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, the public relations firm he started when he left NBC in New York City. He hasn’t always voted Republican, but he voted twice for Trump and prefers building walls than setting traps or installing giant buoys in waterways that can harm desperate. He is also an author whose latest book WORDSHINE MAN is about how to write invitingly as this message on the Statue of Liberty from Emma Lazarus has done so superbly:
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.