Throughout his term as president, Donald Trump has made countless false claims about immigration. Most of the falsehoods have worked to promote conspiracy theories that gang members, killers, and terrorists, are trying to infiltrate our borders. According to him, our country has long been under threat by those illegally attempting to enter our borders and currently, they have worked to mask their evilness by blending in with the migrant caravan.
On November 25, however, just days after Thanksgiving, Americans didn’t see killers or bad people attempting to enter the U.S., they saw mothers and children running for their lives.
One of the most startling images that will forever remain part of the immigration discussion is that of a mother and her two children fleeing from tear gas.
Migrant Maria Meza and her 5-year-old twin daughters, Saira Mejia Meza and Cheili Mejia Meza, run from tear gas that was deployed by US Border Patrol agents near the fence between Mexico and the United States. pic.twitter.com/oo8asD8CSG
— Tuba Tekindor (@TubaTekindor) December 15, 2018
Photographer Kim Kyung Hoon took the now iconic picture in Tijuana, adjacent from the U.S./Mexico border. The moment occurred days after the migrant caravan from Central America had made its way to Tijuana. On that Sunday, border patrol in riot gear confronted a group of about 500 undocumented people that attempted to enter the U.S. illegally. In the mist of the confrontation between these groups were families who had been camping in the area. The border patrol then threw cans of tear gas at the mobs of people.
“When the tear gas started, some people were screaming and everybody started running away,” Hoon told NBC News. “I saw the woman and two children running away. One girl was barefoot from the beginning. The other was wearing beach sandals and lost them in the chaos.”
The image is now considered one of the most powerful pictures of 2018.
The woman in the picture is 39-year-old Maria Meza, and she is now in the U.S., and has filed for asylum along with her two children.
U.S. Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34, Los Angeles) tweeted yesterday that he could confirm Meza and her “kids are now on American soil.”
The democratic lawmaker visited the U.S./Mexico border after he had heard that people seeking asylum were being turned away.
“Sitting outside on the ground, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has enclosed us, they keep telling us they’re at capacity, but won’t show me or Rep. Barragan what the issues are. It’s been 8 hours. We’re not going anywhere,” Gomez tweeted.
Gomez ended up staying overnight with asylum seekers, and while he said he left with more questions than answers, seeing Meza and her family in the U.S. was certainly good news. However, there are many more who haven’t been so lucky.
“CBP has allowed 8 unaccompanied children as well Maria Meza and her 5 kids to request asylum,” reporter Adolfo Flores tweeted. “There’s still 6 people waiting to be allowed in.”
Several news outlets have been following Meza’s journey for months. In early October, when she and her kids were camping in Mexico City, she said: “I hope God will help me enter [the US] with these kids because we’re suffering,” she told Buzzfeed News. “I’m a single mother who wants to provide for my children.”