Pregnant Asylum-Seeker With Contractions Sent Back to Mexico to Live in a Tent
You’re in El Salvador. You just found out you’re pregnant with your second child, in a country growing more and more dangerous. The decision is obvious. You take your 3-year-old daughter and make the treacherous journey from El Salvador to the United States, all the while, growing more and more pregnant. After a long journey, you finally arrive at the border to stake your family’s claim for asylum, and, all of a sudden, you start to experience contractions. Just in time, right?
For the anonymous woman whose story this belongs to, timing is everything, but is seemingly meaningless in her case for asylum. U.S. Border Patrol simply gave her medication to stop the contractions and sent her to wait for her hearing, scheduled on November 14, in a tent city, under a bridge in Matamoros, Mexico.
The Salvadoreña likely expected to receive ongoing medical attention, but has since been living in a tent.
At eight-and-a-half-months pregnant, the Salvadoran woman crossed the Rio Grande with her 3-year-old daughter. Agents took her to a the Valley Regional Medical Center, a U.S. hospital, to receive the medical attention she needed. There, she was given medicine to stop the contractions, and was immediately sent back to Matamoros, Mexico to live in a “makeshift tent camp,” according to AP.
Due to give birth any day now, she’s worried she’ll give birth in the street.
Her lawyer, Jodi Goodwin, told ABC News, “She’s concerned about having the baby in the street or having to have the baby in a shelter.” The Salvadoran mother, who requests to remain anonymous, is scheduled for her asylum hearing on November 14. That also means that she will likely have to care for a newborn infant while living in a tent.
The tent cities in Mexico aren’t any better than the concentration camps in the U.S. Access to meals, clean water and medical care are unreliable. Pregnant woman are especially vulnerable.
Meanwhile, Trump has boasted of his “Remain in Mexico” program as “winning” for the U.S.
After The Washington Post voiced criticism over Trump’s “Summer of Losses,” his campaign immediately pushed out a video claiming a “Summer of Winning” for the administration. The Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico”, program is considered a win for Trump and a humanitarian crisis for much of the world.
After Trump threatened Mexico with outrageous tariffs, Mexico agreed to the deal, allowing the U.S. to outsource its responsibility toward asylum-seekers to Mexico. Now, asylum seekers are turned away at the border and forced to live in tent cities while they await their court date. Effectively, it prohibits asylum seekers from building a life for themselves, or from having adequate access to housing while they await their court dates.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has exempted “vulnerable populations” from the new policy.
But U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is unclear on whether pregnant women fall into that category. In a statement, CBP said, “In some cases, pregnancy may not be observable or disclosed, and may not in and of itself disqualify an individual from being amenable for the program. Agents and officers would consider pregnancy, when other associated factors exist, to determine amenability for the program.”
CBP seems to suggest that they’re off the hook if they can’t ‘obviously’ tell if the woman is pregnant.
“In this particular case, this woman was actually taken to the hospital by CBP,” Goodwin told the Associated Press. “There’s no way that CBP could suggest that her pregnancy wasn’t known.” This woman isn’t even the first pregnant woman the U.S. has turned back to Mexico. She is at least the seventh pregnant woman to be turned away since the policy was enacted this summer.
These women are afraid that if their children become Mexican nationals, it would hurt their asylum case.
On top of that, they are not being provided any services. According to Lina Villa, a Mexican official for Doctors Without Borders, nobody is informing the women of their rights to see a doctor for pre-natal check ups. Mexico offers free, limited health coverage to anyone who asks. The women don’t know they’re allowed to ask. They don’t even know where to go when the time comes to give birth.
For the Trump administration, this is what “winning” looks like.