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Migrants huddle together in makeshift tents awaiting asylum hearings

Baldemar Velásquez, President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee  |  Issue: March 2020
immigrant man sweeping street

Central Americans keep coming in spite of the obstacles by the U.S. Government with their ‘Stay in Mexico’ policy and Mexico’s new tough on immigration actions in the Guatemala / Mexico border.
PHOTOS: MARGARITO DIAZ AND BALDEMAR VELAZQUEZ

 

At the invitation of Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Secretary-Treasurer Christiana Wagner, I accompanied a 17-member congressional delegation to visit the refugee camp in the dangerous city of Matamoros, Mexico. The delegation did fact-finding of President Trump’s “stay In Mexico” policy for migrants while waiting for asylum hearings.

The so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) is a misnomer! Migrants squat near the international bridge for safety. Under constant pressure from gangs, cartels, kidnappings and rape, neighbors from their own countries huddle together in makeshift tents made out of plastic bags, sticks, and boards. We heard heart-breaking stories of how even their current situation is better than their home countries. A woman’s father was murdered by a local gang. She fled with her children after an extortion demand under threat of death to her and her children. Rapes and abductions are commonplace. U.S. policy seems aimed at discouraging people from attempting asylum here by heaping misery upon these mostly poor, innocent people trying to survive.

 

Immigrant children in tent

PHOTOS: MARGARITO DIAZ AND BALDEMAR VELAZQUEZ

 

We also visited the asylum processing center on the U.S. side which was eerily empty! Migrants told us they had been waiting six to eight months for their hearing. We asked why the interview rooms and courtrooms were empty. They said only the DOJ schedules hearings. Apparently, DOJ made scheduling down to a trickle to force the migrants into the intolerable conditions in Mexico.

 

immigrant mother and child

PHOTOS: MARGARITO DIAZ AND BALDEMAR VELAZQUEZ

 

We were briefed by the few attorneys about legal challenges. They are only permitted to gain access to clients the morning of their hearing, putting the migrants at an impossible disadvantage in preparing their petition. This is not justice, it’s a kangaroo court! This MPP is shameful, unjust and immoral.

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