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With 15,000 armed U.S. troops headed to the Mexican border to intercept 5,000 or so refugees as they walk from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the potential for unjustified and illegal violence looms. This outcome is all but assured by the additional presence of gun-carrying vigilantes and self-styled militias gathering at the border in response to President Trump’s incendiary rhetoric.

The migrants are heading north to escape unemployment, violence and the chronic impact of climate change. Droughts followed by torrential rains have led to massive crop failure in their homelands — 700,000 acres just this year.

The administration’s characterization of the refugees as criminals and terrorists has no basis. Nor does its description of the refugee march as an “invasion” of “illegals.” No human being is an “illegal.” Our laws have long provided for refugees to seek asylum in this country when they have a justifiable fear for their lives. They have this right.

As a member of the Board of EcoVIva, a 20-year-old Oakland-based environmental justice and solidarity organization that supports rural community development in El Salvador and Honduras, I urge our community and its media to reject the administration’s jingoist rhetoric and help prevent violence at the border. 

Mary LaPorte,


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