Male Migrants Get Raped Too, Thanks to Our Broken Border

By Jason Scott Jones Published on May 7, 2019

Let me tell you a true story about a Mexican migrant laborer. I’ll call him John.

He came to the U.S. to make a better life for his family, and started taking odd jobs in a Home Depot parking lot near the border in Arizona. If you live in a border state, you might drive by such parking lots every day.

Soon John hoped to make enough money to send for his wife in Mexico. Then the two of them could complete their journey, and become full citizens of the United States.

But just last month, that American dream became a nightmare.

An Arizona couple lured John to their home, promising employment. They forced him at gunpoint to sexually degrade himself with the woman on camera. Then they threatened to send that footage to his wife in Mexico unless he returned the next morning to submit himself to another sexual assault.

They dumped him in the Home Depot parking lot where they’d found him, stripped of his human dignity, in what looked like an impossible situation.

Stories like John’s? You’ll find them more common than we’d like to think, and most of them still untold.

We Don’t Control Our Border, the Cartels Do

Too many politicians don’t want to talk about it. But there’s a direct line of causation between the chaos and lawlessness at our borders, and the suffering of vulnerable people who cross it, or even live near it.

For far too long, the border has run at the behest not of elected governments, but of violent gangs and human traffickers, who abuse vulnerable people on both sides. Thousands of Mexicans have died in the chaos. Americans suffer too.

I’ve written about this consistently for years, both here at The Stream and elsewhere. For far too long, the border has run at the behest not of elected governments, but of violent gangs and human traffickers, who abuse vulnerable people on both sides. Thousands of Mexicans have died in the chaos. Americans suffer too.

The people of both our nations have also struggled economically. When immigrants enter the United States illegally to find work, they can’t appeal to our labor and safety laws. Instead, they find themselves trapped in an underground economy that exploits them and undercuts American workers.

While you and I live in 2019, these people work in the world of Charles Dickens’ factories and William Blake’s “satanic mills,” where wages and conditions obey no law but short-term profit. They get injured, sick, used up and thrown away. (Sometimes they’ll end up at emergency wards, where taxpayers foot the bill instead of the greedy employer.) That’s the reality which lies behind the happy, self-congratulatory slogans of social justice warriors and cheap labor lobbyists.

Trump Defends Human Dignity

Our border problem isn’t a one-sided conflict of America vs. foreigners. It’s also not a partisan problem of Republicans vs. Democrats. As Christians and as Americans, we should understand that it’s a problem of universal human dignity.

That’s why I’m grateful to President Trump for trying, in the teeth of embittered resistance, to secure America’s border. And I call on all people to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable by supporting a strong border, together with a mandatory employee verification system for migrant workers in the United States.

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For the same reasons, I also agree with President Trump, and with many of his opponents, about granting citizenship to America’s hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients, or Dreamers.

They grew up here in the United States. They’ve built American lives, started American families, and achieved successful careers in American industries. They’re Americans in fact, and should be made Americans by law.

The unjust alternative — throwing them straight back into the chaos of our still-broken immigration system, or into an unprotected status as illegal workers, is irresponsible, and would benefit no one but the cruel and the criminal.

Let’s Make Sure John’s Story is Never Repeated

At first, John didn’t know what to do after he left his torturers’ home. When they texted him demanding he return, he ignored the text, hoping to buy time.

A few hours later, John’s wife contacted him, horrified. The man had followed through on his threat, and sent the pornographic video of John to her.

I say John’s story is more common than we’d like to admit. But there’s a plot twist in it that I wish were more common, and it’s the only reason we know his story at all: To the surprise of his abusers, John had a green card. He was in the U.S. legally.

That’s why he could work up the courage to fight back. He called the police — something many migrants would never dare to do.

After their arrest, the suspects admitted to police that they had committed the same crime before, sexually assaulting at least four other random migrant workers. None of them had called the cops. They probably thought they couldn’t, since they weren’t here legally. An unguarded border controlled by drug cartels is a magnet for the next victim, and the next, and the next. As President Trump pointed out, by some surveys, of women who travel through Mexico to enter the U.S. illegally, one in three is raped. Maybe outsourcing our border control to cartel-linked coyotes isn’t the best idea, after all.

Leaving People for the Coyotes

But that’s what our chaotic immigration system has done. We’ve left migrants easy targets for exploitation, by everyone from violent South American criminals to unscrupulous American employers and politicians.

Cartel-associated human smugglers extort and traffick people with promises of easy, illegal passage. Foremen stiff workers, paying them less than promised after long hours of hard work in the blazing sun. “Whaddaya gonna do, call the cops?” they can ask with a sneer. Other migrants carve up pig carcasses, remove asbestos, or man dangerous heavy equipment — without the safety equipment, regulations, or disability insurance American workers take for granted.

Meanwhile, those American workers often go jobless. Tens of millions of them have just dropped out of the workforce permanently. They’ve given up hope. Or should I say that our system has stolen it from them?

We All Deserve Better

Decades of chaos at the border have cost us enough. We may not approve of immigrants coming here illegally. But they’re still human beings who deserve better than rape, exploitation and abuse. We deserve better too.

There are too many stories out there like “John’s.” And most of them have even unhappier endings.

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