BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Immigrant rights groups are looking for volunteers to help document what happens every day on the international bridges and federal courts of the southern border of Texas.
“We are looking for people who cross daily from Mexico to the USA, from all of the bridges in the RGV,” said Michael Seifert, border advocacy strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
ACLU Texas is trying to verify whether the United States government is denying asylum to those waiting at land ports of entry by placing Customs and Border Protection officials or Border Patrol agents at the halfway point of the international bridges.
“All they need to do is to observe if there are families – they will be largely Central Americans – waiting for admission to the USA to apply for asylum,” Seifert said.
National media have reported that U.S Customs and Border Protections officers (CBP) are blocking immigrants at international bridges so they can claim asylum.
Seifert was interviewed at the end of roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela in Brownsville on Monday afternoon.
“They will typically be bunched up on the Mexican side of the international boundary, or at the foot of the bridge on the Mexican side,” Seifert said.
Advocates have said CBP’s attempts to block applicants at border crossings is illegal.
ACLU Texas is also looking for volunteers to help as witnesses in federal courts.
“We are also eager to have volunteers who could attend the magistrate hearings in McAllen or Brownsville. These occur usually at 10am and 1pm during the week,” Seifert said.
Seifert said they need to count the immigrants who are presented at the hearings and also to make a presence.
Other local organizations also plan to recruit volunteers for such work.
“We plan to make available a website so that volunteers can be registered,” said Tania Chavez, fund development and systems strategist of La Unión del Pueblo Entero, a nonprofit that helps low-income families in the Valley.
Seifert gave his email for those who seek to volunteer. It is: [email protected]