Migrants and activists gather at border and call on Biden to ‘save our asylum’ – Catholic Philly



More than 200 supporters gathered on both sides of the US-Mexico border near Nogales, Ariz. On September 25, the eve of World Migrant and Refugee Day, to accompany 25 families seeking asylum. United States.

The Kino Border Initiative – a Jesuit organization that promotes border and immigration policies that affirm the dignity of the human person – supports families fleeing violence in various parts of Latin America.

“President Biden, save our asylum! Chanted the marchers in English and Spanish as they gathered at the border fence for a rally in which several migrants shared their testimonies.

Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network – of which the Kino Border Initiative is a part – told Catholic News Service on the Mexican side of the border that migrants are not trying to cross the border illegally, but are trying to assert their right of legal asylum.

“We have to be aware that our country does not respect the right to legal asylum,” Kerr said. “People are facing serious danger in their country of origin, in places like Guatemala, Honduras or Mexico. We are not standing up for this right – their story to be heard. “

During the 2020 campaign, President Joe Biden vowed to rescind “on day one” a Trump administration policy known as the Migration Protection Protocols policy, or “Stay in Mexico,” forcing them to stay in Mexico. asylum seekers to await their hearing in Mexico. He also promised to stop the use of Title 42.

Title 42 is a provision of US public health law activated by the Trump administration to deport migrants at the border, except minors, due to concerns related to COVID-19.

Biden immediately ended the “stay in Mexico” policy, although the United States Supreme Court recently ordered the administration to reinstate that policy – which it did not do.

But under Biden, Title 42 remains in place, despite criticism for its prosecution and a legal battle over it.

A speaker at the rally said most, if not all, of the migrants present were vaccinated against COVID-19 and were ready to take a test to prove it. The remark was followed by a resounding “Sí! or yes! ”from the crowd.

“President Biden campaigned on how we would treat asylum seekers and other immigrants. He is the first American president to speak about the situation of migrants and asylum seekers at our border. Yet look at where this Biden policy is – it’s no different than what the Trump administration has been doing for four years, ”Kerr said.

“President Biden must be held accountable for what he campaigned on, and we must be held accountable for how we treat someone who comes to our border, seeking to seek safety from harm. serious, torture, threats of violence, “he told CNS.

“As Catholics,” he added, “we must be the conscience of our communities, we must be the conscience of our elected officials, and we must carry the vision of the Gospel in the halls of Congress”.

During the rally, each testimony was followed by a bilingual litany, with the leader shouting “Respect their right” followed by “The right to asylum! ” a crowd.

Karla, who only used her first name, said she fled Guatemala with her two children after her husband was murdered because the family could not afford the extortion costs.

Even after arriving in Mexico, she said, she continued to run the risk of her children being kidnapped or that she herself would be assaulted. When she went to the border in Tijuana, Mexico to seek asylum, she said border patrol officers refused her entry and humiliated her.

“I cried with my children, begging and asking for help in claiming asylum. As I cried out begging them to help them, they laughed at me and my children, ”she said in Spanish, adding that she had had a similar experience in two other border towns.

Andrés, a migrant from the Mexican state of Guerrero, said some members of organized crime tortured and humiliated him, threatening to kill him and his family if he did not cooperate.

“My house was guarded by these people. I decided to run away with my family because I don’t want them to live in fear of something happening to them. That is why we are now asking for asylum, because I want a better future for my children, ”he said.

Even in Nogales, however, Andrés, who also only used his first name, and his family still face insecurity. Migrants are unable to find work because they are considered “delinquents,” he said, and they also face extortion.

Lucia had been waiting with her husband and two children for two months. She noted that there are other migrants who have been waiting for a year and a half for Biden to end the asylum waiting list.

“The mere fact that Title 42 is still in place shows that Biden is pursuing the same racist policies of the Trump administration,” she said in Spanish. “We see that he is really not interested in re-establishing asylum, because if he had been, he would have ended this policy and taken steps to re-establish asylum.”

On the Mexican side of the border, Bishop Edward J. Weisenberger of Tucson, Arizona, offered a prayer and blessing in Spanish to all participants in the march, comparing the experience of the migrants with that of the Israelites facing the persecution in Egypt.

“God of wisdom, who gave Moses the words he needed to inspire his people, even when they doubted them, to calm the anxieties of these families and to inspire them with the words they need in their encounters with the agents. customs and border protection, ”said the bishop. noted.

Supporters on both sides of the border wall marched to the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz., Marching in solidarity with the 25 families seeking asylum. Kerr told CNS all were not only denied entry, but were completely ignored.

“Asylum-seeking families hoped to be heard today by CBP (Customs and Border Protection). The first family that went to the port of entry with the bishop, they did not recognize them, they did not even answer, even when the bishop made the request to them verbally ”, he said. he declares.

The CBP “closed the border post”, he said, as well as “the steel door in front of the pedestrian entrance to the border post”.

“The door was closed. It was sort of biblical, ”Kerr added, reflecting on the story of the Holy Family seeking refuge before Jesus was born.

A migrant woman from Guatemala, Nuvia, marched with her two children, aged 4 and 11. She told CNS that a 3-year-old girl she was from was raped and murdered. As a mother, she puts herself “in the place” of the mother of this young person, she says, and “of the mothers who have thus lost their children”.

“This is why we cannot go back to our country of origin,” she said.

“We are not criminals,” she added. “We are fleeing crime and fighting for better protection of our children.

During the walk, Lucia also said that she and her family once lived in a city in southern Mexico that was rife with crime. Criminals had abducted her husband and when they released him the family fled to Morelos, a state in south-central Mexico, but even there criminal elements attempted to forcibly recruit her 17-year-old son. years.

“I decided for my family that we would come here and seek protection here in the United States, but unfortunately they don’t want to let us go,” she said.

The uncertainty also affected her children, Lucia said. They haven’t been to school since they fled their home and they can’t go to school in Nogales because they don’t have a home there.

“They worry about their education. They ask me what’s going to happen with their school (and) how long they will have to stay here, ”she said. “They’re nervous all the time… we don’t lead normal lives. We are totally adrift.


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