- One woman, whose Texas property has been in her family for generations, said she wanted Americans to understand that the immigrants she sees on her land are fleeing devastating violence.
- She has grown concerned about the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which, until recently, separated families at the US-Mexico border.
- She said the immigrants she encountered on her land weren’t dangerous and needed help and that Americans should remember “we’re human first.”
MCALLEN, TEXAS – Ana’s family has owned a small plot of land along the US-Mexico border in Texas for generations. For years, the family has watched as immigrants illegally crossed the Rio Grande and passed through their property just a quarter of a mile away.
But lately, the immigrants have been travelling a little differently. Ana, who asked to be identified by only her first name, said they had begun arriving in the US as family units rather than as individual adults, now sometimes with very young children in tow.
The immigrants she encounters are never dangerous, she said, adding that they often beg her for water or ask for directions.
Sometimes it appears that the so-called coyotes who smuggled them across the border have lied, telling them they’d be in Houston after crossing the Rio Grande. Ana has to tell them they’re in McAllen, some 300 miles away.
The challenges the immigrants face along their journey make it all the more difficult for Ana to wrap her mind around the Trump administration’s recent “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting every adult who crosses the border illegally and, until recently, separating parents from children who crossed with them.
The separations caused a public uproar as stories surfaced of frightened young children flown across the US to stay in shelters or with foster families while their frantic parents remained in detention facilities or were deported back to their home countries.
Ana says it’s frightening to see how President Donald Trump and his supporters seem incapable of putting themselves in these immigrants’ shoes to understand their situations.
“I think it’s heartbreaking – seeing all those children separated, I think about my grandson,” Ana said, her voice breaking. “I recently lost my mum last month. I’m 48 years old, and I miss her. Can you imagine being a 3-, 4-, or 5-year-old?”
‘A little bit of heart’
Though Trump signed an executive order last week halting the family separations and seeking instead to detain entire families together, Ana says she’s still concerned about his policies.
She acknowledges there may be a few “rotten apples” amid the scores of immigrants she sees. But she doesn’t think a small minority of criminals should mean those seeking asylum should be shut out of the country.
“I understand that there are some people who do come in here and do bad things, but eventually they’re going to pay for it,” Ana said. “Trump, what he needs to do is he needs to come down here himself and look at the people and talk to the people and meet the people. Everything he says is not true.”
Ana says she knows there are political arguments against illegal immigration, and she’s concerned with the way asylum seekers might affect taxpayers, but she said people had to have “a little bit of heart” regarding immigrants in desperate circumstances – especially when kids are involved.
“The thing is, they need to understand that these people are fleeing their countries,” Ana said. “They’re being murdered. We’re human first. We can’t use kids as pawns to get a point across. It’s not fair.”
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