Photo by John Kurc. Twitter @MoiDarwin
I am always hopeful when I visit migrant shelters. When Linda Rivas, attorney for Las Americas in El Paso, Texas invited me to visit a shelter in Ciudad Juarez, I was hopeful. I hoped to hear that although the wait was long and tedious, they had been encouraged by the same things I had seen under the new administration.
President Biden and Vice President Harris have ended the Migrant Protection Protocols or MPP that left tens of thousands stranded in dangerous cities on the south side of the border. They have ordered immigration authorities to start processing asylum seekers. Although in small numbers, it is a change. A change for the better.
That being said, life on the border for asylum seekers is the same. My trip from San Diego, California to El Paso, Texas has been filled with the same horror stories I hear day after day, year after year. It does not matter who is in charge, a Democrat or a Republican, the border policies we have are dehumanizing asylum seekers, forcing them to make deadly choices, separating families in one way or another, ending their lives and denying them their rights.
This is happening under the Biden administration. These are the paraphrased words of many asylum seekers I have met on my journey:
We do not understand what is going on. We went to the ports, but the blue agents would not allow us to claim asylum. So, we went to where the green agents are. They told us to come across and we could talk about how to file. Then they arrested us and made us wait for hours in the sun. They brought others until our group of eight became a group of a hundred or so. Then they took our pictures as one group and put us on a bus. Then they shackled us by our wrists and our hands and put us on a plane in McAllen, Texas. We sat on the plane for hours. Many had to use the restroom, but agents said we were not allowed. Many shit and peed their pants. Women who were menstruating bled through to their pants. The smell was awful. People were crying. The agents laughed at us.
I fell off the wall. I have a large open wound in my leg. The men in green took me to a station and said I would not be taken to the hospital. I begged them because I was in so much pain. They finally took me hours later. The doctor gave me a prescription, but the agent did not fill it and I was sent to Juarez. My wound is still open. I can barely walk.
I told the agent that I knew my rights, that I had the right to claim asylum. He told me to shut my mouth or he would put me in a wheelchair.
We were told that we would be going to a processing center to claim asylum and then we would be sent to join our families in America. When we landed, they said we were in El Paso and would be sent to Juarez. "There is no asylum in the United States anymore," the agent said.
They made us sit with an empty seat between us on the plane. A woman in my row was weak and thin. I told her she could lay her head in my lap. A female agent came by and punched the woman in the head to make her sit up. Other agents encircled her and told her to take her name tag off or else we could identify her and file a complaint.
I got on my knees and begged the agent in green to let me file an asylum claim. I have proof. I cried and pleaded. He and the others laughed at me. He told me to shut up or I would leave in a wheelchair when he was done beating me.
When the female agents searched us, they rammed their hands hard against our private parts. We told them they were hurting us. They laughed.
They told me there is no asylum. That I would have to wait until the Biden Administration opened the border.
I do not understand why they are immigration agents if they hate us so much.
By the end, I had to excuse myself and vomited in the restroom. Me, a former Senior Patrol agent was brought not to tears, but to vomiting at the abuse I heard about. You may say that it takes time, that they are working on it, that the system was destroyed. What many forget is that the same perpetrators of violence during the Trump administration are still there. It is the same management, the same agents in the same facilities because this new administration refuses to hold anyone accountable.
How much time do you think is acceptable? If you were forced to sit in your own feces for hours, would you excuse it by saying to yourself and your child that the new administration is working on it?
These are the same things I heard in the Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton and all the other administrations. This is the norm on our southern border. This is the culture of CBP, ICE and the Border Patrol. This has not changed.
I do not have much hope that it ever will.