Americans must show solidarity in Mexico’s time of need

Jacob Kunz

On the morning of Sept. 19, an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the seismic scale hit Mexico City and the surrounding areas. This came after a string of natural disasters hit North America, from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to another earthquake in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

As the dust settled after an earthquake in Mexico City that killed at least 330 people, thousands of Mexican citizens volunteered and offered aid to their fellow man. Though still reeling from our own natural disaster just 750 miles away, the people of the United States must rise to the occasion to support their southern neighbors.

The reaction worldwide has been staggering, with foreign leaders, celebrities and the American government sharing condolences and sending money, supplies and rescue workers to affected areas. But there seems to be a disparity in how some Americans view this tragedy.

“I completely disagree with this! Let them take care of their own,” said Reddit user jeepergurl in reaction to Trump sending rescue teams to Mexico. “We can send back the 11,000,000 illegals that we’ve been taking care of to go help.”

Reading through public comments on this news and seeing this sentiment shared by many on the far right is not only infuriating in its lack of empathy, but also in its ignorance of precedent. The president sent a response team to Mexico through the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, which was created in 1964 and has sent aid to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

While there are increasing tensions between Mexico and the United States surrounding issues of immigration, that has not gotten in the way of a shared value of cooperation in times of disaster. Much like when they provided over 184,000 tons of supplies to Katrina survivors in 2005, Mexico offered to send paramedics, equipment for food and shelter and 25 trailers of supplies to victims in Texas in the wake of Harvey — the same day that President Donald Trump tweeted that Mexico was “one of the highest crime (nations) in the world.”

Partisanship has its limits, and to see this tragedy through the lens of personal politics is misguided and reprehensible. No matter what you think about Mexico, its people are in dire need of help, and it’s only just that we — as an American people — unite to offer our support.

There are a number of resources to help in sending aid to victims, such as UNICEF or Project Paz. For those still apprehensive on how to treat Mexico in this time of need, perhaps the president’s words to the people of Mexico City are enough: “We are with you and will be there for you.” 

Kunz is an English freshman from New Braunfels. He is a columnist.