Opinion: The Use of Tear-Gas on Asylum Seekers is Unethical

Christina Wong, Staff Reporter

Tear-gas has been banned from warfare, so it’s questionable  why it is allowed to be used on innocent people seeking the US for help.

On Nov. 25, news of a caravan of people fleeing Central America to Mexico and the US. An estimated 7,000 asylum seekers were said to be in the caravan, as they were running from persecutions and danger in their home countries.

The public is in an outrage because Trump’s administration allowed U.S. border agents to fire out tear-gas in the crowd of asylum seekers at the Mexican border on Nov. 23.

Mexican police denied a group of caravan members who tried to walk over a bridge to apply for asylum. In response to being rejected, some members of the caravan, including mothers carrying toddlers, desperate for help, walked to the wire fencing separating the US from Mexico, where US Border Patrol met them with the gas.

Tear-gas is actually not a gas but a painful powder mistified. Although the tear-gas itself is not deadly, it can cause excruciating pain.  The tear-gas one of two pain receptors, causes the eyes, skin, mouth, and lungs to feel a burning sensation. Not only can tear-gas cause physical pain, like vomiting and pouring mucus, but it can cause psychological and emotional problems trauma.

Due to the physiological and psychological problems tear-gas can trigger, it is cruel for Trump’s administration to allow the US border agents to use this a weapon against the caravan. There is no reason why chemical weapons should be used on innocent people, especially children, asking the US for help.

According to his tweets, Trump believes that the caravan is a group of “unknown Middle Easterners.” coming to the United States with bad intentions and criminal records. Trump continued to bash the caravan at a rally held in Arizona. He called the migrants in the caravan “bad people”, “not little angels” and “tough, tough people”.

53% of Americans sees the caravan as a threat, and 29% of Americans see the caravan as a major threat to the US.

The truth is that the caravan is not a group of “unknown Middle Easterners” or “bad people.” In fact, they are a group of asylum seekers, fleeing from persecutions and violence in their home countries. These people come in peace, as all they really want is a place to feel safe for them and their family.

By denying people seeking asylum, the United States is violating not only the international law, but the US’ immigration law as stated, “As a signatory to the 1967 Protocol, and through U.S. immigration law, the United States has legal obligations to provide protection to those who qualify as refugees.” The United States has a legal obligation to not turn away an asylum seeker without checking their record.

To ensure that the United States does not violate international and domestic laws by returning individuals to countries where their life or liberty may be at risk, the credible fear and reasonable fear screening processes are available to asylum seekers in expedited removal processes.”

Although Trump believes that what the caravan is doing is “illegal,” it is the opposite, as he can not straightforwardly refuse asylum seekers, without giving them a chance.

As a country known as the “Melting Pot,” it is wrong to bluntly deny these asylum seekers, let alone use violence on them, when the only reason they left their home countries was the violence they feared and experienced. The irony in this whole situation, is not only devastating, but inhumane.