As Title 42 expired this month, news outlets had images of people waiting to cross the Mexico border into the U.S. Some estimated tens of thousands are now coming across the border in what our president said could become a time of chaos.
Chaos at the border is not new. However, border chaos seeping into other states has become more common in the last year as governors from border states have started sending busloads of migrants to cities like Denver and New York.
I am not debating the issue of busing the migrants, but I do want to add to the border discussion. I lived in Southern Arizona. I grew up there. I started my journalism career there. Dealing with issues from our border was common and the realities are tough to swallow.
Now, our own state is starting to get a look at what border towns deal with. Reports were common last week in saying resources were running low, but the influx of immigrants was continually increasing. What do we do?
For decades, many judged the border towns as being closed-minded and not open to letting immigrants come into our free country. It’s becoming a little tougher to judge those states when our own state is now dealing with the crisis on a firsthand basis.
The border crisis is massive and expanding. The border crisis is decades in the making and our lawmakers have continually passed the buck and ignored it.
In Arizona, the highway patrol regularly struggles with issues caused by the border. Coyotes, or people who lie and cheat immigrants to get them into the U.S., are known to pack trailers full of people in the 110-degree Arizona heat. It was not uncommon for me to cover a story about innocent lives being lost because they were abandoned or left in the hot truck too long.
On another occasion, I covered a car accident where a 4-year-old was shoved into a small car with 10 other immigrants. The 4-year-old was pronounced dead in front of me that day with her mother crying over her. That day still sticks with me.
How awful are the circumstances for these people that are putting themselves in dangerous, unsafe situations for life in America? They are bad. Economics, gang wars in Central America. These human beings have true reasons for wanting a better life.
I looked in the faces of Central American teens being forced to leave home to avoid dying or being recruited to gangs. They were sent by their parents who hoped they would find peace in America and be safer than in their home countries.
On another day, I was among journalists challenged to take a two-mile trek that immigrants were taking to get into Arizona. I did it in the middle of summer across the hot desert. I certainly never question providing water to them after that.
No one can doubt the human side of the border crisis. These are human beings seeking a better life. Here, they are being used as political pawns.
However, the burden is being put on our states and the federal government has chosen to ignore it and blame Republicans.
No fence is going to slow down this crisis. Believe me, I’ve walked along the fence in Nogales and watched immigrants use a ladder, jump over and wave with a smile.
To address this — we need leaders who have compassion but understand reality. We need compromise and empathy. We need to talk to other countries and develop solutions instead of clickbait banter for the daily news cycle.
Unfortunately, this crisis is decades in the making and I doubt will be fixed in this or the next decade given the state of our current leadership.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.