The world, they say, is growing smaller. But in recent times, it also seems to be shrinking in terms of openness, as governments are becoming more nationalistic and only looking out for themselves, even at a cost to others. Leading the way is the USA, Donald Trump and a series of tweets.
Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley have been addressing the issue of terrible conditions and inhumane treatment of migrants by border security agents at a detention centre in Texas.
What is a detention centre? A detention centre is where people who have come to a country without the right visas or papers are kept until immigration authorities hear their case and make a decision on whether to allow them into the country or to deport or send them back. The three, along with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, are fighting for human rights at the centres.
Back to Mr. Trump: Mr Trump defended the agents saying that the centre had been given “great reviews”. At a press conference, he said, “If you are not happy, if you are complaining all the time, you can leave…If you are not happy here, you can leave! It is your choice, and your choice alone. This is about love for America.” To make matters worse, Trump added on Twitter that the four women “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe”. However, all the women, except Ms Omar, (who was born in Somalia but came to the US as a young child) were born in the USA and are American citizens! Oddly, the USA is a country that was made by immigrants! The comments were heavily criticised by the Democrats and by some members of Trump’s own Republican Party. World leaders too pitched in saying that the remarks were completely unacceptable.
But Trump is trying everything he can to keep migrants out of America. He has recently introduced a new law that would immediately deport any who can not prove, with some form of identity or papers, that they have lived in the USA for two years continuously. Usually, such people would be able to get their case heard in court, and a judge would decide their fate, but Trump wants to speed up the whole process by avoiding the courts. Again, rights groups are upset and are going to put up a fight.
Does this happen in other parts of the world? Closer to home in India, migrants are being targeted by the Government. Home Minister Amit Shah has said that he will try and make the National Register of Citizens (NRC) applicable throughout the country. It is currently applicable only in Assam. Mr Shah said in Parliament, “The Centre …. is dedicated to weaning out illegal immigrants from every inch of this country. We will make sure that all such immigrants are deported as per international law.” However, in Assam alone, the exercise has been problematic with many lawful citizens saying that they have been left out. About 41 lakh people have been left off the final version of the NRC, and 36 lakh have filed complaints against their exclusion. It is currently being updated and this is being strictly monitored by the Supreme Court.
With the US, India, and other countries all looking inward, the outlook for people in genuine crisis looks bleak.
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.