The One Video You Should Watch Today: Agents Risking Death to Save Migrants

Art to Congress: 'No, you did.'

By Andrew R. Arthur on August 22, 2019

If you only watch one video today, this should be it, in a tweet by Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Director Mark Morgan:

I can write about how smugglers are very bad people, or about how U.S. Border Patrol agents save lives on a daily basis. But the press loves pictures and video (much more emotional, so why bother reading all those words), especially pictures of little girls standing next to their mothers as the mean Border Patrol agent processes them or videos of little girls whose parents were arrested after worksite enforcement operations.

Morgan's video, however, is the coda to the June 2019 photograph of the drowned father and daughter in the Rio Grande. That photograph was ghoulishly splashed across the press, and tweeted by sanctimonious politicians. Take this tweet from failed senatorial candidate Robert Francis O'Rourke, for example:

With due respect to all involved, President Trump was not responsible for the deaths of that father and daughter. He did not encourage them to cross the raging river in June 2019. Members of the Border Patrol, who work to enforce the laws that Congress has passed and do so at the direction of the president, would have saved them at risk to themselves if they could have, in the same way they risked their lives to save the migrant adults and children in video clip above.

While the father's exact inclination to cross is unknown and unknowable (except that he wanted to come to save up money for a house, according to his mother), it was likely to take advantage of the loopholes in the law that Congress (including former Rep. Robert Francis O'Rouke (D-Texas)) has refused to plug in our immigration system, loopholes that are exploited by smugglers and migrants alike.

The Guardian began a 2009 editorial with following anecdote:

In occupied Paris, a Gestapo officer who had barged his way into Picasso's apartment pointed at a photo of the mural, Guernica, asking: "Did you do that?" "No," Picasso replied, "you did", his wit fizzing with the anger that animates the piece. Work started weeks after German bombers had unleashed an early dose of Blitzkreig on the Basque town from which the work takes its name. ... As in Picasso's cubist days, there are symbols and broken shapes aplenty, but with Guernica there is no need to decipher. The message is stark, with immediate impact. In black and white, the piece has the urgency of a newspaper photo.

That it does.

If members of Congress and senators look at the June 2019 photograph of the father and daughter, and bother to review Acting Director Morgan's video, and ask the agents who are tempting fate in the rushing torrent, or Morgan, or Border Patrol Chief Carla L. Provost, or the president himself, whether each, any, or all of them are responsible for the migrants crossing the border illegally at risk to themselves, their children, and others, they should remember Picasso's riposte.