Binational Protestors Converge On The Border To Demand Restoration Of Asylum
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Photo by Matthew Bowler
Marchers converged on the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday morning to protest the treatment of asylum-seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Tijuana, asylum-seekers marched to the El Chaparral port of entry, demanding that the U.S. restore asylum proceedings for the thousands of migrants fleeing their home countries and arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. Across the border in San Ysidro, advocates read the stories of asylum-seekers.
“We cannot return to Honduras because our lives are in danger," read one of the testimonials. We do not feel safe in Tijuana, and the closure of the border has left us without work."
Before the pandemic, many asylum-seekers were waiting months in Mexico for their chance to appear in a U.S. court for an asylum hearing. As COVID-19 limited travel across the border, however, the US asylum system has nearly ground to a halt, and the U.S. has expelled anyone who crosses the border without authorization in a matter of minutes.
It has also postponed all scheduled asylum hearings for those in the "Remain-in-Mexico" program.
"There’s a lot of uncertainty, and fear for our asylum-seeking siblings in Tijuana. Their dates are having to be postponed. There’s a lack of information, a lack of resources, they don’t have any certainty in their asylum process,” said Dulce Garcia, the executive director of Border Angels.
The two groups converging at the border issued a list of demands — including the end of Remain-in-Mexico, the reopening of the border for asylum-seekers, more support for immigrants from the Mexican government and the end of waiting lists for people who want to declare asylum.
Garcia said next year’s presidential election will prove pivotal in the lives of these asylum-seekers. But she believes a lot of damage has already been done. Earlier this week, ACLU lawyers said that it has been unable to find the parents of 545 young asylum-seekers who had been separated at the border in 2017.
“Essentially, this administration has undone all protections for refugees and asylum-seekers. So, if there is a new administration, a change in administration, we’d expect there would be a respect of asylum laws, both domestic and international laws. The U.S. was a driving force for protections for asylum-seekers, we were setting an example for the rest of this world, until this administration.
On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would soon be hearing a challenge to the Remain-in-Mexico program. The administration’s migrant expulsion policy is also being challenged in court.
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