A migrant reaches out for a blanket. Photo by Chris Stone
A migrant reaches out for a blanket. Photo by Chris Stone

After four decades of providing food, supplies and care to migrants crossing our southern border, I have finally been stopped.

Not by Title 42, but because my heart gave out. I had a massive stroke earlier this month and was rushed to a hospital. It was Scripps Mercy, where I was born.

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Many reporters for local, national and international media contacted me there about the end of Title 42. Because of my condition, I directed them to others who could speak for the migrants.

But this gave me time to reflect on my past work and the continuing tragedy along our border.

Not one report about Title 42 mentioned the U.S. role in causing migration. Our country has taken natural resources from our southern neighbors, damaged their environment, tampered in their elections, created a market for drugs and provided weapons to the cartels.

We helped create the poverty and crime that cause so many to migrate, then respond with racist policies like Title 42. President Trump’s real goal with this policy was to keep out dark skinned people under the pretense of protecting us from COVID-19.

But there has been no rush to the border — the presidential primaries are too far away for the right wing to create a spectacle.

Take a moment to consider the extent of the tragedy. In the last 25 years, as many as 12,500 migrants have died crossing the border. But can most Americans name just one? We all know who George Floyd was, but migrants are unseen.

Yet there are reminders everywhere, like the statue of former Gov. Peter Wilson, supporter of anti-immigrant Proposition 187, in downtown San Diego.

Migration is a global phenomenon. Out of more than 250 million migrants worldwide every year, only 10 million undocumented immigrants have made it into the United States over several decades.

America must do better. We need to welcome the stranger because we were once strangers too.

Enrique Morones is the founder of Border Angels, the House of Mexico and Gente Unida.