America overlooks deaths in ICE custody

As we start the new year, many individuals tend to look back at the many things that occurred in the previous 12 months. In our political climate, it makes sense that we would reflect on things that we have seen go wrong. While this is something that occurs every new year, it is different this time. The government shut down on Dec. 22 and carried into the new year due to the president not receiving the funding for the border wall that he promised on his campaign trail.

A subject that goes hand and hand with the wall is the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and their detention centers. These detention centers are used when illegal immigrants are caught trying to come into the U.S. and they are held until their removal proceeding can be initiated; this usually can take up to two weeks but sometimes extends to 90 days. The sad truth that many U.S. citizens are aware of, but continue to look over, are the deaths of not only illegal immigrants but migrant children in ICE custody.

Jakelin Caal, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, died in ICE custody. A few weeks later a Guatemalan boy, Felipe Gomez Alonzo, an 8-year-old, passed away after having been moved around four detention centers in Texas. While these were the most covered deaths in the media, they are not the only detainees to have died in U.S custody. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, in the year of 2018, a total of 12 immigrants died while in ICE custody.

While border security is important, innocent adults and children losing their life over it is not the way to do it. Many of the children are too young to understand why they are leaving their homes. They don’t understand the reason as to why they have to venture on the trip to a new country. For that child to make it to the U.S. and then die in OUR custody is completely wrong and immoral. As Americans we have to recognize that we are failing those who are seeking the chance of opportunity. By us simply sending our thoughts and prayers to the families affected, we do not change anything. We must take action and use the voice that we have to speak for those who are silenced by our nation.

If the president wants to reform our immigration system, it has to start with fixing ICE policies rather than spending money on a wall that won’t keep people out. This includes training these government workers to respect people and not treat them as animals. For instance, if someone needs medical help, they should be required to give that person medical treatment. It is wrong that people are dying because they are denied medical help. Fixing the problem starts with fixing what we can control. We can control the way employees handle specific problems, but what we cannot control is people coming into the country, striving for a better life.

Immigrants who are leaving their country are not going to care if there is a wall in the way of their freedom. They wouldn’t care if there were three walls. People who are feeling danger, especially those with a family, are going to do whatever it takes to get to safety. If someone can’t sympathize with these people, imagine a scenario where you and your family have to make the difficult decision of leaving the only place you have ever known. You would do whatever it takes to make it to safety, no matter if it is illegal or not. You are fighting for yourself and your family. This is what these people are doing.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings who need to support one another. We will not make it as a nation if we are divided down the middle and letting children die as a result of differing opinions. Whether or not individuals support immigrants coming to the country, children are dying at the hands of a U.S. organization, and we need to open our eyes and recognize the fixable issue at hand.

Call your state senator today and demand change.