Yesterday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro walked the path that many migrants have walked before. Castro went to Mexico and met with migrants seeking asylum at a refugee encampment in Matamoros, Mexico in a move of solidarity and in hopes to put pressure on immigration officials as well.
“There are thousands of migrants who are suffering because of Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy,” Castro said in a phone interview with NBC News. “They are being kidnapped, extorted, and subjected to violence. I want to speak out, particularly for the most vulnerable migrants with disability and migrants who are LGBTQ. They’ve been particularly hurt by this policy.”
If elected, he said, Castro would put an end to this policy “immediately.”
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) October 7, 2019
Although Castro was told that officials would hear the cases of the asylum seekers, they lied.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “eight gay and lesbian asylum seekers from Cuba, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as a deaf Salvadoran woman and her three relatives” walked alongside Castro through the border bridge to his native Texas from Mexico.
“All had earlier tried to cross here with a lawyer after being returned to Mexico to await court hearings, and all had been sent back by U.S. Customs officers,” writes Molly Hennessy-Fiske of the LAT. “Some had already waited four months.”
However, the migrants were returned to Mexico to await their hearing there.
“I hope that people in this country who say that they’re Jesus-loving, God-loving—that they pay more attention to God-loving, Jesus-loving people on this side of the border, that are brown-skinned, that are desperate, and are being treated cruelly by this president.” pic.twitter.com/u1PS1lgDtH
— Sawyer A Hackett (@SawyerHackett) October 8, 2019
Like thousands, the asylum seekers Castro attempted to help remain in Mexico under the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy.
Asylum seekers often wait for months and are told within hours to return for another hearing, which is why many migrants remain living homeless near the border.
A mother from El Salvador with four children told Castro that people in the US do not understand the reality many are facing at the border.
"We're humans, not animals," she told him. "We have nothing here.”
— Texas Civil Rights Project (@TXCivilRights) October 8, 2019
While the move by Castro was ultimately unsuccessful, he did shed light on the illegalities that immigration officials are conducting at the border.
Immigration rights organization Texas Civil Rights Project tweeted, “This is a brutal blow to due process. These 12 people have been in CBP custody for 3 hours, which means that each person had less than 15 minutes for their non-refoulement interviews.”
What I saw in across the border in Matamoros, Mexico is a national embarrassment—one entirely of Trump’s creation.
Make no mistake: his agenda is killing people—and it's on purpose. pic.twitter.com/JU7MuskcL2
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 7, 2019
“Non-refoulement is when an asylum-seeker or refugee cannot be sent back to the last country they were in because they are subject to persecution there,” they added. “If these people — LGBTQ migrants who have been assaulted for who they are in the camps, disabled people, children — do not meet the criteria for ‘vulnerable populations,’ then the ‘vulnerable’ exemptions in ‘Remain in Mexico’ are lip service.”