FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2020
Congresswoman Barragán Witnesses the Cruelty of Remain-in-Mexico Policy at Matamoros Refugee Camp
Congresswoman and her colleagues assisted a 6-year-old girl with severe health needs and her family who had wrongly been denied entry to the U.S.
MATAMOROS, Mexico — Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán and her colleagues witnessed the cruelty of the Trump Administration’s Remain-in-Mexico policy for asylum seekers, as a six-year-old girl with a heart condition and Down Syndrome was turned away at the border by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials.
The Trump administration’s Remain-in-Mexico policy had forced the girl and her family to wait in Matamoros, Mexico, where migrants are living in deplorable conditions. Crime and violence are so rampant that the U.S. State Department ranks the danger to travelers in Matamoros at the same level as those travelling in Syria.
Even though the Remain-in-Mexico program provides that vulnerable migrants would be exempt from being returned to Mexico, the girl and her family were denied entry to the United States.
After Barragan and her colleagues demanded answers to why this girl was denied entry despite her condition, CBP relented and allowed the girl to cross into the U.S. while her family’s asylum claim is considered. Her family could now travel to Philadelphia, where a doctor who had examined her on site previously arranged for her to receive care.
“We’re grateful this six-year old with a heart condition will now get the care she requires, but it shouldn’t have taken five members of Congress to be present for CBP to follow official guidelines and allow vulnerable migrants to be taken out of the Remain-in-Mexico program and wait in the United States,” Congresswoman Barragán said.
Congresswoman Barragán met the girl on a Congressional Hispanic Caucus CODEL to witness the conditions where asylum seekers are camping in Matamoros while they await their court hearings. Migrants at the Matamoros site have no clean running water and live in makeshift tents made from plastic bags. They face dangers from crime, drug cartel kidnappers and poisonous snakes, among other unsafe and unsanitary conditions. It is no place for any child, certainly not one with a heart condition and Down syndrome.
“Migrants today come to America for safety, freedom and opportunity—just like they have been for 250 years. They deserve better than the horrible conditions I saw today at Matamoros,” Congresswoman Barragán said.
**For photos and videos of the Matamoros site, please visit Congresswoman Barragan’s Twitter feed.**
The delegation trip marks approximately one year since the Remain-in-Mexico policy was implemented, a period in which thousands of children and families have been forced to live in similarly dangerous and inhumane conditions. Resolution of asylum claims can take months or longer and many claimants don not have access to legal counsel as they await in Mexico.
Congresswoman Barragán has vocally opposed the Remain-in-Mexico policy and other human rights abuses occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.