BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Rio Grande Valley community activist Michael Seifert says grave injustices are happening at the U.S.-Mexico border every day.
The border advocacy strategist for the ACLU of Texas is demanding the end of the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, otherwise known as Remain In Mexico, and the restoration of asylum and justice in immigration courts.
“The Trump administration continues to toss aside laws meant to protect the civil and human rights of migrants, forcing families to stay in severe danger in Mexico while they seek asylum and to plead their case without an attorney,” Seifert said. “We will not stop bringing these violations to light until we see action.”
Seifert said that since MPP was instituted, an estimated 60,000 migrants and asylum seekers are “trapped” on the Mexican side of the border.
“Grave injustices are happening at our border every day. The Trump administration continues to toss aside laws meant to protect the human and civil rights of migrants, forcing families to stay in severe danger in Mexico while they seek asylum and to plead their case without an attorney. We will not stop bringing these violations to light until we see action,” Seifert added.
Seifert is slated to participate in a protest against MPP in Brownsville on Sunday.
The protest is being staged by activists from Texas and 30 other states who, along with the Texas branches of the ACLU and Children’s Defense Fund. They say they will “mobilize” next to the Department of Justice’s tent courts.
“We invite all Americans, and especially elected officials, to come see the cruel consequences of our policies, hidden behind fences and walls,” said immigration activist Josh Rubin, founder of the grassroots Witness at the Border. “We cannot stop what we cannot see. So we must go and see.”
Rubin said cartel and gang activity pose a life-threatening menace in the Matamoros camps. He said women and children are at high risk for rape, abduction, violence, and extortion.
“Witness at the Border calls on all those horrified by what is being done in our name to come and see for themselves,” both at the tent courts and in the migrant camps, Rubin added.
Camilo Perez Bustillo, Fellow at Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University said the Remain in Mexico program is designed to mistreat and punish migrant families and communities at the border and beyond.
“The “Remain in Mexico” policy also highlights the way in which U.S and Mexican authorities and those of other countries of origin and transit such as Guatemala are actively complicit in these injustices too,” Perez Bustillo said.
“These policies produce serious violations of U.S. obligations under international law, which protects the right to seek asylum, and further compound the effects of policies like family separation and the indefinite detention of migrant children and families in inhumane conditions, which constitute crimes against humanity. It is our moral and legal obligation to respond and act in defense of these rights that are being trampled in our name, on both sides of the border.”
Cheasty Anderson, Senior Policy Associate, Children’s Defense Fund of Texas, agreed.
“The U.S. has created a humanitarian crisis at our own border akin to those our State Department condemns elsewhere in the world,” Anderson said.
The Witness at the Border vigil will continue indefinitely until U.S. immigration policies are changed, Anderson added.
Here is the schedule of events for the Jan. 12 protests:
9 a.m. Gather at Xeriscape Park
10 a.m. Picketing at the Tent Courts
12:00 p.m. Rally
2:30 p.m. Witness at the Border: The Vigil Begins. Witnesses cross the Gateway International Bridge to Matamoros in small groups, to observe and report on the conditions in the refugee camps.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows a mother from Central America feeding her baby on the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas. She and her family are waiting to apply for asylum. (Photo: Michael Seifert/ACLU)