Children on Rocky Ground

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CNN has obtained exclusive photos of children and families at a U.S. border facility in McAllen, Texas.

“A baby bottle filled with milk can be seen in one photo next to a child sleeping outside on dirt, and in another, a woman is seen sitting on rocks leaning against a wall clutching a child.

“The photos came from a source who was disturbed by the conditions over the weekend. CBP has confirmed the images are authentic.

“Additional photos show the chaos and overcrowding at the station’s outdoor temporary holding area.”

Take a look. Then ask: is this the best that a wealthy and powerful nation can do?

Of course not. Neither is it the worst that we can do and are doing right now. According to the Mexican government, U.S. immigration officials have sent 5,273 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador back to Mexico to await their asylum hearings in the United States. Asylum seekers sent back  under the “Remain in Mexico” policy face precarious and often dangerous conditions in Mexico.

“This is what has happened since the Trump administration placed asylum in a chokehold.

“The Associated Press visited eight cities along the U.S.-Mexico border and found 13,000 immigrants on waiting lists to get into the country — exposed to haphazard and often-dubious arrangements that vary sharply….

“In some cities, days pass without anyone being processed, the AP found. In San Diego, up to 80 are handled each day, but the line in Tijuana, across the border, is the longest anywhere — about 4,800 people….

“But some feel they cannot. They try to enter illegally, sometimes with tragic consequences.

“A Honduran family, arriving at Piedras Negras, Mexico, decided the line was too long. Crossing the Rio Grande, they were swept away; a father and three children, including a baby, are believed to have died….

“The challenges faced by asylum seekers waiting in Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, are compounded by rampant violence.

“There were 1,472 murders recorded last year in the state of Tamaulipas, where Reynosa is located. Gunfights between cartels and police occur daily, and the U.S. State Department has warned Americans not to travel there.”

A rational administration would increase resources for processing asylum applications. A rational administration would release asylum seekers in the United States and give them work permission so they can support themselves while waiting for their hearings. Instead, The Defense Department is planning a “Contingency Mass Migration Complex” at Guantanamo Bay and making plans to send migrant children to a “dormitory facility” there.

One of the consequences: more asylum seekers are giving up in despair.

“I want to go back to my country,” she told the judge.

“[Immigration Judge] Herbert asked her if she was afraid to go back to Guatemala.

“Yes, but I am even more afraid to be in Mexico,” Karla said, sobbing. She held her baby while her older son, Eddin, sat about 10 feet away on a courtroom bench.

“At the end of the hearing, Herbert issued an order of removal that will result in the family’s deportation to Guatemala. Attorneys familiar with Migrant Protection Protocols said Karla and her family are the first people in the program to be ordered deported.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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