Sister Norma on What Biden Can Do for Migrants Stuck in Mexico

Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash

via the Washington Post:

Norma Pimentel, a sister of the Missionaries of Jesus, is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

Dear Mr. President:

I write today to appeal to your sense of morality, human dignity and as a fellow Catholic. While the Supreme Court has blocked your efforts to rescind the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, while litigation against it proceeds through the court system, I urge you to act. These legal complications, and our backlogged immigration courts system, cannot become an excuse to strand thousands of people in dire conditions, especially when other options are available.

I know from firsthand experience just how desperate the situation is. MPP was implemented in my community in early 2019. Its effect was to force thousands of people into a makeshift “tent city” along the Mexican side of the Rio Grande river as they awaited rulings on whether they would be granted asylum….

We must not make children live for months in rain-logged tents. We cannot abandon them to communities where their mothers are afraid to let them use the bathroom at night for fear they might encounter a gang member or be assaulted. In the name of God and in the spirit of decency that has been a hallmark of Americans for generations, I beseech you: If this policy must continue, let us find a way to end the worst cruelties that have defined it thus far.

If your intent is to negotiate with Mexico over how to house asylum applicants while their claims are being processed, proper shelter and care for these families must be at the heart of those conversations. One option would be to request that the U.S. Agency for International Development be allowed to provide food, housing and medical assistance to the families waiting in Mexico. Another would be to grant humanitarian parole to the people currently in these camps, which would allow them to pursue their immigration claims in more stable conditions within the United States without acting as a permanent loophole in the immigration process….

It is immoral and abhorrent to deter people who are legally and peacefully seeking safety in the United States by deliberately exposing them to the very perils that they are hoping to escape.

If proper accommodations cannot be negotiated with Mexico, I urge you to push for an alternative. We cannot allow a lack of creativity and fortitude to become an excuse to abandon the principle of compassion.