He says the nation’s needs to fix it’s ‘broken immigration system.’
Washington DC (KM) The conditions for migrants at the US–Mexico border have improved, but more needs to be done. That’s according to 6th District Representative David Trone (D-Md), whose returned from a visit to immigration facilities in McAllen and El Paso, Texas.
Earlier media reports say children were being squeezed into crowded cages with unsanitary conditions. But Trone says that’s changed for kids and their parents. . “They are in big, huge facilities which are gated with metal, so it’s like a cage. But they all have restroom facilities, shower facilities, three hot meals and bedding facilities,”: he says
However, Trone says unaccompanied men are kept in cages. “50 or more packed in cage. There was no space to even lay down. You could have the men lay down; but they’d be on top of each other. There were no mattresses, zero; no bathing, zero. One toilet in an open setting,” he says.
“The men told us they had been there from 60 to 80 days, 60 to 80 days,” Trone continues. “Overcrowded, unsanitary. It doesn’t reflect who were are as a nation. We’re better than that.”
Recently, Congress passed a bill setting aside $4.6-million for humanitarian aid at the border, something Trone said should have been done a long time ago.
While in Texas, Trone says he met with employees from the Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “We have some really good people there. We have some really good folks, working really hard, doing the best that they can,” he says. “I think the word that came through was ‘overwhelmed,’ too many people came at one time,” he says
Part of immigration reform, says Trone, is beefing up border security.
While conditions have improved on the border, Trone says there is one problem that remains. “We’ve cleaned the disaster at the border, except for those unaccompanied men,” he says. “But we’ve instead transferred the disaster to Mexico.”
Under the Migrant Protection Protocol, individuals who are requesting asylum must remain in Mexico while their case is being considered in the United States. Trone says many wait in less than favorable conditions south of the border. “are sitting waiting, homeless shelters, living on the street, no place to go, no ability to have a livelihood, waiting to be metered, that’s the word they’ve used, to be approved to come into the US and processed and ask for asylum.”
Immigration officials allow a few in at a time, says Trone. He says he spoke with CBP and ICE personnel, who estimated that about 18,000 migrants are waiting their turn in Mexico. The Congressman says “metering” has to end.
“We need comprehensive border reform,” Trone says. “We need to be able to have the ‘dreamers’ be made America citizens, have a path to citizenship for folks that are here.”
“Dreamers” are those immigrants who came to the US when they were small children, and have lived here since. They know only America, and are not familiar with the country of their birth.
In addition reform at home, Trone says the US should provide aid and work with countries in Central America, such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where many of these migrants are fleeing to get away from violence and extreme poverty. “If we could spend the dollars to support these governments, folks don’t want to leave their homes unless it’s not safe; they can’t find any work; their kids are starving. That’s why people leave,” he says. “We have an obligation to step up and help some folks. That’s what we do as a country.”
By Kevin McManus