Congressional Black Caucus Visits African Migrants At The Border
Friday, November 22, 2019
Photo by Max Rivlin-Nadler
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus visited a shelter for African asylum-seekers in Tijuana on Friday to discuss the treatment they’ve received in Mexico.
California Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee, as well as New York Rep. Yvette Clarke, made the trip to Mexico, joined by San Diego Congressman Juan Vargas.
The migrants have been made to wait in Tijuana for months at a time under the Trump administration’s “metering” policy, which severely restricts the number of people allowed to apply for asylum at a port of entry.
Earlier this year, asylum-seekers from Cameroon staged a protest, calling the metering policy corrupt, along with the waiting list maintained by the Mexican government.
“Because of our egregious immigration policies, we need to pay special attention to the plight of immigrants from African countries because they wind up being virtually stateless,” Bass said during a news conference following their trip to Tijuana.
“There is a process that is very strange, it is not transparent, they do not speak Spanish, and so how they even factor themselves into the process is not really clear at all.”
Many African asylum-seekers have left countries like Cameroon and Eritrea, where they face political violence. The migrants then fly to countries in South America, which don’t require visas, and then travel overland all the way to the southern border.
“They should not have to be treated like this,” Lee said. “They should not have to have had such a dangerous journey, just to get to a place which, in many ways, continues this dehumanizing process.”
The Department of Homeland Security has said that the metering system is in place because they lack the capacity to process a large number of asylum-seekers along the southern border.
Once African asylum-seekers are finally processed, they often face years of detention as their asylum claim winds its way through the court. In September, a 37-year-old asylum-seeker from Cameroon died while in DHS custody in Otay Mesa.
After their visit to Tijuana, the representatives then held a congressional “field” hearing on the conditions asylum-seekers face along the border. They have pledged to continue to return to the border to learn more about the plight of African migrants.
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