NFL star quarterback Russell Wilson isn’t known for making political statements, but that changed Wednesday.
This week, a man and his young daughter from El Salvador died while attempting to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico and illegally enter the United States, according to Fox News.
A heartbreaking photo of their bodies facedown in the water has been circulated widely on the internet, with many on the left blaming President Donald Trump and his border policy for their deaths.
Wilson is one of those who shared the photo along with a political message.
In an Instagram post, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback declared that the American dream has turned into a “nightmare.”
“I am a Descendant of Slaves,” he wrote. “America didn’t mind ‘Immigrants’ then but now it’s 2019 & families are searching for a better way of life for their innocent children.
“The ‘American Dream…’ It’s become a NIGHTMARE. Innocent children dying is wrong. Being a descendant of slaves… I am living the quote on quote ‘American Dream.’ WHY COULDN’T THEY???”
Wilson’s wife, R&B singer Ciara, also decried the photo.
Commenting on her husband’s post, she wrote, “Enough is enough. My heart is crushed by these images and what’s happening to these families.”
The photo Wilson posted was taken Monday and first published in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada. It displays the bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria.
The girl and her father washed ashore on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, about half a mile away from a bridge that connects Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas, Fox News reported.
Many took issue with Wilson’s stance.
Educate yourself better. These two were at a port of entry, and decided not to wait in line. They crossed the river. Dad went back to to get mom, girl followed dad back in, they both drowned when he tried to save her.
USA policy should be, “knock on the door. Ask to come in.”
— Marty Haughian (@haughian_marty) June 27, 2019
My grandparents came to the US many decades ago from Mexicao, now I’m here. They came respecting our immigration process, paid the fees & took the classes, they DID IT RIGHT attaining citizenship. This father, AT A COST didn’t do it right. Smh Lets be clear who’s responsible here
— ⚜️SpartanGod56⚜️ (@SpartanGod56) June 26, 2019
They are more than welcome when entering LEGALLY!!!! Sneaking in puts everyone at risk!
— Sue (@skgarfield77) June 27, 2019
It’s tragic that they died. They could have had the dream had they chose to immigrate legally. The USA is not to blame for people dying because they made a bad decision.
— Dennis Flanagan (@metaline58) June 27, 2019
Their deaths are certainly tragic, but Wilson’s assessment is far off base.
The United States is home to a huge number of immigrants, legal and illegal. As of 2017, 44.5 million immigrants were living in the country, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. This was about one-seventh of the U.S. population at the time.
Wilson’s post does highlight the issue of deaths among those trying to enter the country illegally.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency reports that from 1998 to 2017, 7,216 people died while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Although Wilson seems to think the United States should open its borders and take in the entire world, a better response to these tragic deaths would be to strengthen border security.
If physical barriers made it so that there was no way to even attempt to enter the country, potential illegal immigrants would be deterred from trying to do so. This would prevent them and their children from being killed by trying something dangerous.
The United States does a lot to improve the lives of Latin Americans already. Millions enter the country legally each decade.
In addition, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the home countries of many of those attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, have received millions of dollars in foreign aid from the U.S. over the years.
Wilson feels terrible about what happened, as would anyone who sees that photo. But that is no reason to rip the American dream, which still flourishes to this day.
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