Julian Castro escorts asylum seekers across Mexican border

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
By Paul Martin

Sean Walton
October 8, 2019

Presidential candidate Julián Castro on Monday escorted a group of asylum seekers across the border bridge to his native Texas from Mexico, where they had been sent under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Walking across the bridge with Castro were eight gay and lesbian asylum seekers from Cuba, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as a deaf Salvadoran woman and her three relatives. 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. Some had already waited four months.

The asylum seekers said they knew they were taking a risk: They could be returned to Mexico or placed in long-term detention.

“Ten years in detention is better than a day here,” said Dany, 22, a lesbian who fled Cuba with her partner and asked, like the others, to be identified by only her first name since her immigration case is pending.

Dany said she decided to join Castro on the bridge to show the U.S. “how they’re breaking the law here.” She said Remain in Mexico was a “trick by Donald Trump.”

“The U.S. doesn’t want any migrants,” she said.

More than 50,000 asylum seekers have been sent to Mexico to await the outcome of their U.S. immigration court cases since the Migrant Protection Protocols, known as Remain in Mexico, began in January. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials initially said “vulnerable” migrants would be exempted from the program. But scores of LGBTQ, disabled and pregnant asylum seekers have still been returned to Mexico.

Dany and other LGBTQ asylum seekers said that while they waited in Mexico they had been threatened and intimidated for being gay. Melisa, a 27-year-old from Honduras, said she was hit in the face by a stranger as she stood talking to friends outside a nearby pharmacy. Even at the migrant camp by the bridge, people sometimes called them names, said Dany’s partner, Mari, 24.

“The same people who are living with us discriminate against us,” she said.

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