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Tear gassing migrants isn’t the image I want for America

Migrants run from tear gas launched by U.S. agents, amid photojournalists covering the Mexico-U.S. border, after a group of migrants got past Mexican police at the Chaparral crossing in Tijuana, Mexico on Sunday. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

I was off last week and took a trip as I’m wont to do. I logged my most walking ever in a week at over 77 miles. As I was busy patting myself on the back, I thought about the caravan of immigrants making its way towards the southern border of the United States. Many of those folks will have walked over 1,000 miles to pursue their dreams. They probably don’t have fancy running shoes and an iPhone tracking their mileage via GPS.

But they did have quite the greeting from America. Yesterday, U.S. agents fired canisters of tear gas at the caravan. Men, women, and children that have been walking for weeks got faces full of lung searing tear gas as some of them tried to complete their journey on American soil.

One member of the caravan named Ana told the Associated Press that she tried to run and shield her 3-year-old Valery from the tear gas but, “when you run, the gas asphyxiates you more.”

I don’t know if Ana and Valery walked all of the over 2,200 miles from the Honduran border to Tijuana, but even if it’s only a fraction of that, I don’t think she should be welcomed with a volley of tear gas canisters.

Any 23-year-old mom that can care for a 3-year-old while walking hundreds of miles over rugged terrain can be my neighbor anytime. Ana Zuniga is exactly the type of person that I would like to have in my community. Just by virtue of her making it to Tijuana, I can assume that she is fit, tenacious, brave, and ambitious. She is willing to put it all on the line for the possibility that her daughter might have a better future than the one back in Honduras.

If you make it to high school in her home country, you can expect to earn somewhere around $800 – $4,500 per year. Not per month, that’s annual salary.

In addition to the crippling poverty, Honduras also has some of the most violent and deadly cities in the world. As early as 2012, San Pedro Sula had up to 20 homicides per day. I’m just guessing here, but I think that the cocktail of violence and poverty is what is motivating Ana to walk north.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not think that the United States should erase its borders and have an immigration free for all, but I also think that firing tear gas at children is not displaying the best of the American ideal.

It seems reasonable to me that if a mom like Ana can demonstrate that she is, in fact, fleeing from a country ravaged by poverty and drugs that America can at least listen to her story before hitting her with tear gas. Maybe there is a valid reason to turn Ana and Valery away, but I truly believe that if given a chance, these two would be highly productive and make great neighbors.

In fact, they might inspire a few of us to get up off the couch and walk some miles.

“What Are We Talking About Here” can be heard every weekday at 4:50 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. on the Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM.

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