Things That Matter

Refugees At This Mexican Border Camp Are Facing A Severe Humanitarian Crisis Thanks To US Immigration Policy

We wish we were writing to tell you that the border camps are closing down. Or at least being investigated as part of the impeachment proceedings. But no, we’re yet to see any official scrutiny into the border camps and their operation. In fact, we’re here to tell you that not only is the US operating these camps and subjecting migrants to some horrific conditions, but Mexico now has some well-established border camps, too.

The main border camp in Mexico is based in Matamoros.

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Reports peg the population of Matamoros at 2,000 migrants. As for the conditions at the camp, well. They are, let’s be honest, squalid at best. Some asylum-seekers are stuck living in tents and tarpaulins, while other sleep in bushes, or just on the streets. It’s common to see asylum seekers bathing in the Rio Grande, which carries its own set of health risks – given that it is known to be contaminated with E.Coli and other unfriendly bacteria. “This is a temporary camp, so nobody is putting infrastructure. There’s no running water … no proper sanitation. There’s no way to wash your hands after you’ve used the washrooms, which are absolutely indescribable,” said the director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, in a recent interview.

Health-wise, the camp is a breeding ground for disease.

Doctors Without Borders said that in a three-week period last month, it completed 178 consultations for things such as hypertension, diabetes, diarrhoea, asthma and a bunch of psychiatric conditions. Over 50 percent of these patients were just children. And sure, health issues are just one of many problems with staying at the camp. Matamoros is known to also have its own issues with the cartels, meaning that refugees make the perfect targets for violence and sexual assaults. 

Even though this is all happening in Mexico, the core of the problem lies with US immigration policy.

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In order to solve the immigration issues happening right before our eyes, we have to first acknowledge the ways in which policy influences the situation. These migrants who are stuck in a hellish limbo in Mexico are suffering the consequences of the Trump administration’s attitudes towards asylum seekers. We’re seeing this not only in the impending Supreme Court judgment that may end the DACA program, but also the shift towards making migrants wait in a “safe third country” for their asylum applications to process.

It’s this very policy that has created what is essentially an international queue of people desperately seeking refuge from violence and natural disasters. The camp at Matamoros is a symptom of much broader issues: applications for asylum in the US need to be processed faster – and refugees should not have to literally live outside until their applications are processed.

Some experts compare the conditions to those found in massive refugee camps of Africa.

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The most stark commentary around the issue has come from Amnesty International Kenya’s executive director, Iruũgũ Houghton. “I’ve been in one of the world’s biggest camps and that’s the Dadaab camp, which is at the northern border of Kenya with Somalia and every time I’m in that space my blood boils. It really just gets to me, the level of injustice and it feels like that [in Matamoros],” said Houghton in an interview with TPR. He also pointed out that Kenya is currently playing host to 468,000 refugees – while the US, a much bigger country with considerably more wealth, has capped their refugee intake to just 18,000 people annually. Sí, amigas, none of this looks good on the international stage.

Unfortunately, this border camp business doesn’t stop at Matamoros, either.

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And no, we’re not talking about the detention centers on the US-side of the border. The migrant population is getting too big for Mexican officials to handle at Matamoros, and so they have launched a new initiative to try to get camp dwellers to move elsewhere. However, the authorities are having a hard time trying to get them to move. So much so, they have threatened to use child protection services to separate migrant families within Mexico, arguing that the current conditions in the Matamoros camp were no place for a child to live. Someone call a doctor: our eyes are rolling so far back in our heads, we’re in danger of losing them altogether.

The government is constructing a new facility nearby but it too will be too small to handle the growing crisis.

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While the new migrant shelter – a converted gymnasium – can house about 300, and is decidedly much more comfortable with its luxury of an actual roof, the migrants at Matamoros are unconvinced. The resounding fear is that, once away from Matamoros, the refugees will not have the same ease of access to aid workers, relief packages, and legal services. Whether those fears are unfounded or not remains to be seen.

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Honduran Woman Gave Birth On Bridge Between U.S. And Mexico Border But What Will Happen To Them Next?

Things That Matter

Honduran Woman Gave Birth On Bridge Between U.S. And Mexico Border But What Will Happen To Them Next?

Julio César Aguilar / Getty Images

As the number of parents and children crossing the border continues to increase, driven by violence and poverty in Central America, many are growing desperate while being forced to wait in migrant camps in Mexico. While crossings have not reached the levels seen in previous years, facilities that hold migrants are approaching capacity, which has been reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is forcing many to check the status of their claims by crossing into the U.S. to speak to border agents. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more and more women are being forced to give birth in less than ideal situations – putting at risk both the lives of the mother and child.

A migrant woman gave birth on a bridge between U.S.-Mexico border.

According to Mexican border authorities, a Honduran woman gave birth on the Mexican side of the border bridge between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. The woman was apparently trying to reach the U.S. side, but felt unsteady when she got there and was helped by pedestrians on the Mexican side waiting to cross.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said the birth occurred Saturday afternoon on the Ignacio Zaragoza border bridge, also known as “Los Tomates.” It said authorities received an alert from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials regarding “a woman trying to enter the country improperly.”

It said the woman was taken to a hospital in Matamoros, where she was given free care. Her child will have the right to Mexican citizenship.

Hernández is hardly the first woman to give birth while hoping to cross into the U.S.

Just last month, a woman gave birth along the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. She had just crossed the river and her smugglers were yelling at her to keep moving as U.S. Border Patrol agents arrived. But she couldn’t continue, fell to the ground, and began to give birth.

The mother and her her daughter are safe and in good health. “They treated me well, thank God,” said the woman, who didn’t want her name used because she fears retribution if she’s forced to leave the country, in an interview with ABC News.

“There’s so many women in great danger,” Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, told ABC News. “They must really think before they do what they do and risk the life of their unborn child.”

Like so many other women, Hernández was waiting in Mexico under Trump’s cruel immigration policies.

Hernández was reportedly among about 800 migrants sheltering in an improvised riverside camp while awaiting U.S. hearings on their claims for asylum or visas. Other migrants are waiting in Matamoros, but have rented rooms.

Thousands of other migrants are waiting in other Mexican border cities for a chance to enter the U.S. — some for years. The Trump administration has turned away tens of thousands at legal border crossings, first citing a shortage of space and then telling people to wait for court dates under its “Remain in Mexico” policy.

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Cuban Asylum Seekers Stranded In Mexico Are Upset That Cuban-Americans Overwhelmingly Voted For Trump in Florida

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Cuban Asylum Seekers Stranded In Mexico Are Upset That Cuban-Americans Overwhelmingly Voted For Trump in Florida

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Cuban migrants who are stranded in Mexico are reportedly upset that Cuban-Americans in Florida overwhelmingly voted for Trump, according to reports. 

Reuters interviewed several Cuban migrants who are stuck in Mexico due to the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies.

Many of the Cuban migrants were planning on claiming asylum in the United States due to the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies, they are forced to wait out the process in Mexico. Some have been there for months. 

Although many of the Cubans in Mexico understand Trump’s appeal to Cuban-Americans (i.e. anti-socialist, pro-capitalism), they nonetheless wish that their compatriots would look at the bigger picture when it comes to immigration reform. “They’re only thinking about the benefits for themselves if Trump wins, and nothing else,” said one Cuban asylum seeker, a doctor named Dairon Elisondo, to Reuters.

According to NBC News, 55% of Cuban-Americans in Florida cast their vote for incumbent Donald Trump as president.

They effectively helping the state–which was considered a potential swing state–turn red. One asylum-seeker whom Reuters interviewed claimed that he was betrayed by his own family member when his brother-in-law in Florida voted for Donald Trump.

“Imagine it! I’m a part of his family!” said Jose Manuel Maranillo. “I feel terrible he voted for Trump because we’re stuck here in Juarez hoping for Biden to win so he can help us and Latinos in the United States too.”

One of the Cuban asylum-seekers, Yuri Gonzalez, pointed out that Cubans who arrived in the United States before Trump was elected had a different experience when it came to seeking asylum. “Many of them [in Florida] arrived to the United States on planes with visas,” said Gonzalez. “They didn’t cross borders or endure any of the difficult experiences I’ve had to.”

Reuters asked Denise Galvez, a Cuban-American living in Florida who co-founded the group Latinas for Trump, what she thought of the Cuban migrants in Mexico who are disappointed in Florida going red.

Galvez said that immigration was “far from a top voting issue” for her and many other Cuban-Americans.

Another Cuban-American residing in Florida, Maria Romero, said she supports Trump for his hardline stance against Havana, but she also sympathizes with the asylum-seekers stuck in limbo. “I’m Cuban, so I don’t want [Trump] to be kicking other Cubans in the head,” she said. But unfortunately, that appears to be exactly what he’s doing.

Since President Trump was elected to office in 2016, the policies towards asylum seekers has become incredibly strict, even enacting an “asylum ban” in 2018. The ban was later struck down by an appeals court in 2020. But still, seeking asylum in the U.S. as a migrant is harder than ever.

When former Vice President Joe Biden was officially projected to be the next President of the United States on Saturday, the Cuban asylum-seekers stuck in Mexico were reportedly overjoyed. Cheers and chanting erupted in the refugee camp when the news was announced. The words “Bye Trump” were spelled out in balloon letters.

“We’re all going to celebrate today! Everyone is so happy,” Elisondo told Reuters after the announcement. “After so much darkness the light may arrive.”

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