US immigration

Trump’s migrant policy opponents will go down in history, just like America’s anti-slavery moral giants

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 June, 2018, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 June, 2018, 6:33pm

The US Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 stipulated that all escaped slaves, upon capture, be returned to the person who purchased or inherited them, and that officials and citizens of free states had to cooperate. Essentially, this law made it illegal for anyone in the United States to provide aid to human beings escaping slavery, mutilation, branding, torture, extortion, and rape.

Fast forward to today, and as many as 3.4 million people born in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are now living in the US, more than double the estimated 1.5 million people in 2000. About 55 per cent of them are undocumented.

Why are they risking everything to come here?

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-profit think tank: “El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras consistently rank among the most violent countries in the world … all three countries have significantly higher homicide rates than neighbouring Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. Extortion is also rampant.”

The latter relates to hundreds of millions paid in annual extortion fees to organised crime groups, with the targets reported to be mainly public transport operators, small businesses, and residents of poor neighbourhoods.

Starvation, beatings, tears: life for a teen in a US immigrant camp

I think there is an important comparison to be made between the situation in 1850 and the current migrant crisis happening on the US border.

Upon reflection, it always strikes me how little is remembered about the slave kidnappers, plantation owners, Fugitive Slave Law enforcers, and politicians who endorsed pro-slavery legislation. Who recalls the slave hunter Patty Cannon and her merciless gang? Or John Breckinridge, US vice-president and secretary of war for the Confederate States of America? Or Edwin Epps, 10-year owner of Solomon Northup, author of Twelve Years a Slave?

Match this ignoble list to the abolitionists of that same era: names such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Abraham Lincoln, John Brown, William L. Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Thaddeus Stevens, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

How has history appraised their actions? Have they not become moral giants? Are they not the ones whom our children learn about in school? Are they not the finest examples of what it means to be conscientious and compassionate members of the human race?

Today’s pro-migrant “abolitionists” who oppose the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policy may find themselves overriding prejudiced and capricious laws – they may even find themselves in jail. But as with the great freedom fighters of the 19th century, history will reward those who stand on the right side of justice.

George Cassidy Payne, Rochester, NY