Five of the
Representatives stayed in Matamoros to advocate for a very sick
6-year-old girl (she has a hole in her heart and has Down
Syndrome), who had been turned away for asylum. She needed
immediate medical attention with which the minimal medical
clinic in the camp could not help her. They were able to get her
to the US with her family for help. It should not have
taken five members of Congress to help this family. There are
hundreds more in similar situations.
It appeared to many of us
that the “stay in México” policy is meant to punish the
migrants, placing them in dangerous situations to discourage
them from coming to the US. Matamoros and other border cities
are dangerous, and the US has declared Matamoros a no-travel
advisory for US citizens. However, the migrants stay in donated
tents/tarps/ropes from humanitarian organizations because many
of them would have faced certain death if they had stayed in
their home country.
There is an underlying
feeling of stagnant immobility from our government, which was
unnecessary and appalling. The desperation and hope and the
incredibly resilience of the asylum seekers was incredible to
see. They have come so far. I was in awe of their courage to
escape. Families and so many young children. These people found
other seeking asylum from their country, and they huddle
together for protection. The camp grounds were uneven and dry.
The ground was packed mud/clay/dirt right up against the Rio
Grande River which when heavy rains come, they would be
completely flooded over. Camp sites and make-shift tents would
be easily washed away.
stations were set up near camp sites. No refrigerators nor
modern conveniences. Some migrants make a little money to
survive the conditions by making food for the masses or working
in local area businesses which need easy and exploitable labor.
Terrified parents sleep restlessly on the ground outside the
tents doorway to protect their kids from being kidnapped. The
horrid reality is that there are hundreds who have been
kidnapped, raped, sold into cartels, and more.
The Rio Grande River is
where they washed their clothes and bathe. We did not see
showering stations. Thrown together outhouses made of boards
were every couple hundred yards. Big, white heavy-duty plastic
water tanks about the size of two porta-potties were stationed
in between the outhouses. We saw one of them being filled with
the river’s water with big plastic hoses. The water opaque from
mud and pollutants, was being pumped into the tanks. These tanks
hold the migrants’ drinking water.
Because of inadequate
filtering, medical issues that are completely preventable are
running rampant (diarrhea, digestive problems, fungus, and
fever). Many of the children have two or three of these
As we walked through the
camp people were eager to tell their stories - men, women, and
children alike. One little boy (about 1 or 2 years of age) kept
saying “Hola! Hola!” at the top of his lungs. One woman
had arrived last August with her three young children who looked
identical to her. Her hearing is next month. The HLS
confidently said the process from the time they arrive on the
border to the time of their completed vetting is 72 hours. They
acted confused and ignorant when we simply said that this is not
the case for many of the people waiting in México. They again
deferred to the DOJ.
A couple of times, looking
into their tired, terrified, determined faces, I thought I would
just fall apart. My eyes welling up with tears, choking down
sobs. Looking at the ground, I took a few deep shaky breaths and
kept moving throughout the camp. Observing, talking,
sympathetically smiling and nodding as I heard their stories.
I felt helpless and that I
had nothing to offer that would really help. So, what I really
want to give them is freedom—freedom from our ridiculous
political games; freedom from views that do not represent them
in any way, shape, or form.
I can speak of their
stories to whomever will listen. I am hoping and praying with
all my heart that the members of congress we have now met with
will take this home and speak the truth and let their stories
speak for themselves. I hope they can end this MPP! There is no
protection in anything that this policy is doing.
In the meantime, I will
keep doing what I do with what I have with passion for
justice to be seen in my lifetime,…to see our work at FLOC
to advocate for and work to overcome seemingly impossible
obstacles as we continue to empower others.