BROWNSVILLE, RGV – The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has condemned the Trump Administration for its plans to send Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala as part of a bilateral agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the Guatemalan Government.

As part of an asylum agreement between the US and Guatemala, the U.S. started  sending asylum-seekers from Honduras and El Salvador to Guatemala in November 2019.

“Right now, tens of thousands are living in tent camps and shelters along the border waiting for asylum,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“They have suffered the dehumanizing experience of waiting for months just to assert their legal rights because of Remain in Mexico, metering, and other hurdles intentionally created by the Trump Administration to block migrants from entering the US.”

Now, under this new expansion, Castro said, “Mexican asylum seekers will not have the opportunity to reach safety, and instead may be sent to Guatemala. This cruel and illegal effort aims to discourage families from seeking asylum in the U.S. and will surely have catastrophic impacts.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Castro, D-San Antonio, maintains Guatemala is not a safe third country.

“Thousands are fleeing the country because of their high crime rates, violence, and corruption. Their government is in no way prepared to take on the thousands of asylum seekers at our border who may be subject to this expanded agreement,” Castro said.

“We cannot allow this Administration to continue eroding the asylum system to punish migrant families and children. This – and Trump’s entire anti-immigrant agenda – must be stopped.”

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is dedicated to “voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.”

Visiting the Border

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville.

Meanwhile, Castro and Congressman Filemon Vela of Brownsville have announced they will lead a congressional delegation to Brownsville and Matamoros to investigate the impacts of the Trump Administration’s Remain in Mexico policy and the use of tent court facilities to adjudicate Remain in Mexico asylum cases.

Matamoros has the largest tent camp of its kind on the US-Mexico border. The visit will be made on Friday, Jan. 17.

Vela pointed out that the upcoming trip will approximately mark one year since the Remain in Mexico policy was implemented on January 25, 2019. 

“The Remain in Mexico policy has turned away approximately 60,000 migrants. Thousands of families are being forced to wait in dangerous border towns in Mexico as they go through the asylum process, which can take months,” a CHC news advisory stated.

Members of Congress will cross the border to visit asylum-seekers in Matamoros. Afterwards, the delegation will tour the tent court facilities in Brownsville. “The tent court facilities have been shrouded in secrecy and there have been multiple reports of due process violations,” said CHC, in its news advisory.

Following the tour of the tent court, the members will brief the press on their impressions from their visit to the tent court and discussions with families under the Remain in Mexico policy.

Among the members of Congress planning to make the trip to Brownsville and Matamoros are:

Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34)

Congressman Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Assistant Speaker

Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs

Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Second-Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Immigration Task Force Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32)

Congressman Pete Aguilar (CA-31)

Congresswoman Norma Torres (CA-35)

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29)

Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04)

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)

Congressman Brendan Boyle (PA-02)

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20)

Congressman Ed Case (HI-01)

Other members of Congress may be added to the tour party.

Editor’s Note: A tent city in Matamoros, Mexico. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Veronica G. Cardenas)