CNN reported today that acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli blamed the father in the photograph of a drowned man and his daughter at the southern border for both of their deaths.
"The reason we have tragedies like that on the border is because those folks, that father didn't want to wait to go through the asylum process in the legal fashion, so decided to cross the river," Cuccinelli said of father Oscar Alberto Martinez and his daughter, 23-mont-old Angie Valeria, whose bodies were found in the Rio Grande.
"Until we fix the attractions in our asylum system, people like that father and that child are going to continue to come through a dangerous trip.", added Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli does make a couple of good points. The U.S. asylum system is very attractive to immigrants. People in other countries hear about the divide between Republicans and Democrats, and they take advantage of politicians that do not act.
Democrats love to criticize President Donald Trump for his immigration stand and policies, but they don't offer real solutions. They say that these "asylum seekers" should be welcomed into the United States. Really? They assume no one is willing to lie to be seen as a victim. Democrats know that each asylum case must be investigated or are they that naive? While each asylum case is investigated, what should the government do with that immigrant? That is the question that no one wants to answer. The asylum process needs to be expedited which will fix some of the issues, but not all.
The other point made by Cuccinelli is that the father in the photo, the immigrant, is to be blamed. This is true. The father decided to make the dangerous trip to the U.S. and it cost him dearly. Many point fingers at Border Patrol or U.S. officials, but they are not forcing thousands of immigrants to cross through Mexico and take a chance at entering U.S. soil illegally.
That said, the Martinez family is going through great pain after their loss.
Tania Vanessa Avalos, Oscar's wife and Angie Valeria's mother, told the Mexican newspaper La Jornada that her family had grown desperate. Temperatures reached over 110 degrees at the migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, where the family had been waiting to present themselves at a US port of entry and seek asylum, she said. The family had been at the migrant camp since Sunday.
The conditions are certainly terrible, but it's a result of the massive migration coming from Central America. Who is to blame for that?
Former San Antonio Mayor, Julian Castro, who is now running for President blames the Trump administration. During Wednesday night's Democratic debate, Castro said it was Trump's policy of limiting asylum at ports of entry that led to the deaths.
Castro was referring to the Trump administration's policy, called "metering". While it is true that the policy has caused longer wait times, it is aimed at trying to figure out who really has a case for asylum versus those pretending just to get into the country. With the number of immigrants seeking asylum, it has caused a headache. As Americans, we can complain about this, but this is actually for our own protection. If a stranger knocks on your door asking to move-in with your family, would you just open the door without actually knowing who it is? The stranger could swear up and down that he is in need, but as a parent you would somehow investigate to see who this person is. Our Border Patrol is doing just that.
Now talking about blame, is anyone blaming El Salvador? Oscar Alberto Martinez fled El Salvador with his 21-year-old wife Tania Vanessa Avalos and their daughter. El Salvador has been plagued by gang violence. One Salvadorian woman told us that her mother has to pay local gangs in San Salvador just to cross the street. Another Salvadoran told us that parents are terrified that their children will be forced to join a gang or face torture. These are real problems. No doubt, newly elected president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, is aware of this problem.
Rampant crime is the main headache for most of El Salvador's 6.6 million population. Bukele will inherit one of the most violent countries in the world, although under the outgoing FMLN government murders fell 15 percent in 2018. At around 51 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, the murder rate is still about 10 times higher than the United States.
Much of the blame is pinned on El Salvador's "maras" — international criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking and extortion that have some 70,000 members. Previous governments have tried, but failed, to broker lasting truces between them.
Recently the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the largest gang, floated the possibility of stopping violence through dialogue.
"We trust in God and in the new president Nayib," a MS-13 spokesman told the Central American magazine Factum. It's interesting that they "trust in God" and yet cause so much death.
Bukele said he will push ambitious public works to help contain migration, including plans for a Pacific railway, though he has given little indication of how he hopes to fund them. If there is no action, then the Salvadorian government is also to blame for these immigrant's death.
The U.S. cannot help El Salvador's economy while the gangs are in control. The same goes for Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
The immigrants themselves are to blame. While it is true that there is much violence in these countries, there are parts of the country that are peaceful. Those that want to move away from crime infested neighborhoods are not willing to move to other areas or other countries in Central America. The reason is that the "American dream" attracts them. They reason that life will be easier in the U.S. and they can quickly make money. Families in their home countries promote this thinking as many live from the money sent to them from relatives working in the U.S. One Honduran wife recently complained that her husband was sending 60% of his salary back to his family. "My husband’s family live like rich people in Honduras while we are barely paying our bills here in the U.S.", she said.
Many are to blame for the immigration problem. It’s not as easy as blaming one person and it will not go away in one day.