Almost exactly twenty miles from where this picture was taken (Old Town, San Diego) there is a massive humanitarian crisis growing.
Twenty miles away, this month alone there have been 100,000 asylum-seekers sent away from the safety at the border.
Twenty miles away, the border is only taking eighty applications a day. As of yesterday, 15,000 Mexican troops were deployed to try to keep migrants away from Tijuana and the U.S.A.
No one ever wants refugees.
The Justice System
Even the U.S. immigration judges think we’re unjust, knowing sending people away means putting their lives at risk for trying to find help because their lives were at risk. Can we find no safe place for them?
The United States recently began legally requiring these Central American amnesty-seekers to seek amnesty into our country from outside of our country. But the immigration lawyers on their cases are inside of our country. You know how difficult (i.e., possibly impossible) that makes it for anyone to actually be granted amnesty?
No Room and the Results of No Room
As of few weeks ago, 6000 refugees were stuck in an unofficial refugee camp in east Tijuana. And that is just there. Where are these people going?
Corruption, murders, sexual assault & trafficking is rising, as is usually the case in refugee crises. As far back as January, Doctors Without Borders reported that crime syndicates were targeting this vulnerable population (no surprise) and 90% of the migrants they care for in Tijuana have are experiencing mental health problems (like PTSD) or have suffered physical violence.
One of the orphanage directors I met a few months back with Unity 4 Orphans told us there was little to no room in the approximately 100 orphanages in the region for these kids. They’re going on the streets.
Twenty miles away, this is happening.
Other Border Towns
This crisis looks different in each border area: migrants dying in desperation, traumatized kids separated from their families are locked-up, little-to-no personal hygiene, note enough food, warmth, cages. Even the Homeland Security’s Inspector General is appalled (which I talk about here).
Don’t even get me started on the interviews with kids. Gosh, what if they were my kids? But these are someone’s kids, and some are held in San Diego less than twenty miles away.
This is us, guys, the good old U.S.A., the essence of freedom and justice. Our response to a humanitarian crisis is mostly pretending it doesn’t exist.
Many Americans who see it in their peripheral vision believe this is a legality thing; an immigration thing. “Follow the laws,” or, “They just really like America, but they threaten our security, and besides, we’re full.”
As if it can be simplified into a neat ball of not my problem.
But it is our problem, isn’t it? Twenty miles away my neighbors need compassion, hope, justice–even if this was simply a “legal thing.” But it isn’t.
What’s Really Causing the Refugee Immigration Crisis
These Central Americans are escaping gang rule, a type of war where you’re killed if you don’t pay-up. It is called an “invisible war” because it doesn’t take the shape of war we are used to.
It has been happening for years, in the “Northern Triangle,” which includes the countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. There have been an estimated 500,000 migrants seeking refugee per year for awhile now, fleeing from extreme exhortation, death threats, taking children for the gangs, shutting-down or violently destroying businesses, and yes, lots of killing people who don’t cooperate.
It is corruption and injustice at it’s finest. (For those of you who participate in Blackout Trafficking, this is trafficking–and everything else bad). Think of it like this–most of us don’t want to live in the inner city on gang turf, let alone be in a whole city, even county, state or country ruled by MS-13 or the Bloods.
But it’s been ramping up. And the U.S.A. has been responding in ways that are drawing attention to it with various crack-downs or methods to try to control it. However, we agreed to participate in an international law which says we will help provide at-risk refugees asylum. The U.S. isn’t following our own laws, and keeps changing them to try to get around providing refugee. We even just recently blackmailed Mexico to try to prevent amnesty-seekers from reaching us (hence, the troops).
What Does Living Justly Look Like?
Guys, these aren’t people who just see America as the land of opportunity. These are people fleeing their lives. They are our Syrian refugee crisis.
They run from injustice to survive. We would too.
I’ve been following this awhile, searching for ways to respond. The laws are changing constantly. It’s confusing.
But like many others, I can’t live justly and just watch or ignore this problem. I live in San Diego for such a time as this.
I encourage you to, also consider what living justly for you looks like.
What Is Your Next Step to Respond to this Refugee Immigration Crisis in San Diego and Beyond?
1.) Decide Whether You Care or Not
First, you might be unsure this is something you should even care about. I might not have convinced you. That is fine. Your next step is to go here and answer these “NOT SURE WHAT YOU SHOULD THINK” questions to help you decide where you stand.
Note: They also help us work through how it is possible to be be pro-refugee, pro-security and pro-economy at the same time.
2.) Learn More About Ways to Respond
Sure, you can learn more facts about the migrant refugee crisis on the border. Please do. But I suggest learning by looking at how to get involved.
We Welcome Refugees as an amazing tribe that does a great job overviewing what is going on and ways to be involved at any given time. Their most recent email newsletter (please read it here) is a great starting place. They are faith-based, but these ideas for action work with all.
Global Immersion is another, San Diego based org that seems like they know what is going on whom I hope to join with.
3.) Ask What Living Justly Looks Like For You
All of us have different margin to give. We won’t all donate $1000, volunteer with a non-profit or act as a child advocate or sponsor family. We won’t all help relieve the burdens at orphanages (like with Unity For Orphans), nor will we all be able to carve the time to write letters to magazines, call Congress, or make Facebook videos. But there is a way all of us can respond–even if it is just by helping someone else create margin by watching their kids so they can act!
You usually won’t know “right away” how to respond deeply and that is normal and sometimes a good thing. The goal is to begin changing you so you can respond–which often starts little.
Note: I always suggest choosing a small action at first to help you invest and create accountability (ex. share this post with someone, pray about it for a week with a friend, donate $10 to an organization with your significant others)
Please Talk to Me About the Refugee Immigration Crisis near San Diego!
Personally, I’ve been very heavy-hearted about this issue, because, well, twenty miles…. I am trying to figure out what my own next steps are besides breaking it down for you!
I want to hear your ideas, your collaborations, how you might respond. We aren’t meant to mourn injustice, be compassionate and live justly on our own!