Sister Norma Pimentel: Do Not Ignore Suffering at the Border

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Sister Norma Pimentel writes:

Our camp is a makeshift “tent city” filled with about 1,500 vulnerable women, men and children awaiting rulings on their applications for asylum in the United States. These families are living in donated tents at the mercy of extreme weather. Here, the temperatures can rise above 100 degrees, and when it rains, the downpours knock down their only refuge and leave them in mud pits. Imagine living in such uncertainty, where even such basics as running water and a place to shower are nonexistent; where you have to depend on outside organizations for food, which you have to cook over a campfire. Like the prisons and nursing homes that have been breeding grounds for the virus in the United States, the camp is crowded with people who for now are not going anywhere.

And nevertheless, this camp has recorded just one case — a young woman from the interior of Mexico, newly arrived here along with a cousin and a friend. Following procedures then in place, they were placed in quarantine and those who showed symptoms were tested….

While their success of fending off covid-19 up to now is laudable, the most important thing to realize about the larger situation is that it simply should not be happening. This MPP policy fails to address people with dignity. We should not have people forced to wait for asylum — trying to find safety for themselves and their families — while camped outside in the elements for months at a time. It is contrary to our laws and the dictates of humanity. The story of these asylum seekers has faded from the front pages of U.S. newspapers and from television screens but the cruel and unfair situation continues….

While I know many people in many places are dealing with so much, I urge you not to look away from the border in this moment. Do not ignore the suffering occurring here. It is time that we put an end to it, and to end the MPP policy. Until that happens, we will continue to help those who are defenseless, whose only real “crime” is trying to seek protection for themselves and their families.