We can solve the border crisis

Instead of seeing this situation as a human rights nightmare, which it is, Americans are concentrating on reading it as a quasi-assault on our sovereignty.

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Columnists

January 10, 2023 - 3:54 PM

Texas National Guard troops block immigrants from entering a high-traffic border crossing area along Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, as viewed from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (John Moore/Getty Images/TNS)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently called the challenge the city is facing in serving an influx of migrants a crisis created by the Republican governor of Texas. As an academic who studies and teaches refugee policy, I agree the crisis is manufactured, but its roots are much deeper and effects far-reaching. Before any knee-jerk reactions, we must understand why some people are invested in it as a crisis instead of a problem that can be solved.

Chicago has an outsize interest in a solution because we are the biggest destination city for asylum-seekers and migrants in the Midwest. Since last August, more than 3,800 migrants have been bused here from Texas. As a sanctuary city, it is in our interest to get the facts straight.

Notably, the U.S. government has dramatically narrowed access for people to ask for asylum legally and have their cases heard. People fleeing their countries are risking their lives to ask for asylum. Donald Trump, when he was president, systematically dismantled and starved the immigration infrastructure through his policies — resulting in the furloughing of thousands of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees, the imprisonment of children and the illegal detention of migrants. Because of such policies, asylum-seekers endanger their lives by crossing the Darien Gap only to face long lines and a wall. The U.S. could alleviate this issue by offering people alternative ways to request asylum.

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