Witness at the Border: #7 - The Response

the work of witnessing

This is the final post in the “Witness at the Border” series on my recent visit to the migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico and related border enforcement facilities in Brownsville, Texas.

I went on behalf of On Earth Peace to learn from those who came to witness on the U.S. side, and from those who came to seek asylum on the Mexico side of the border. And learn, I did!

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Witness at the Border: #6 - The People

home school

home school, camp style

They come from places like Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicauragua, and other parts of Mexico. Waiting in camp for a long series of court dates to adjudicate their claims for asylum in the U.S. (or the possibility of a quick deportation under one of the new fast-track processes).

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Witness at the Border: #5 - The Camps

tents

2,000+ asylum seekers in a tent/tarp city

The city of Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico is a city of more than a half million people, and the center of a metro area with over one and a quarter million. It is closely connected with the city of Brownsville, Texas directly across the border. So closely that one organizer wryly referred to Brownsville as a “gated community” suburb of Matamoros. This is where the Mexican and U.S. governments decided to park more than 2,000 asylum seekers in a makeshift migrant camp in a popular public greenway between the levee and the river.

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Witness at the Border: #4 - The Airport


“... while the organization would simply right itself by some compensating reaction in another part of its machinery – since everything interlocked – and remain unchanged.”
-- The Trial, by Franz Kafka


When Witness at the Border began, its focus was on the new Migrant Protection Protocol (“Remain in Mexico”) program and the camp it caused to spring up on the other side of the border. However, as organizers began to observe daily charter flights of shackled migrant deportees flying out of the Brownsville airport, and saw the size of the camp in Matamoros begin to stop growing, they shifted some of their attention to include witnessing at the airport.

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Witness at the Border: #3 - The System

“The Policeman said to me, ‘You want to know the way? Give up! Just give up!’”
   -- The Complete Stories ("Give It Up!"), by Franz Kafka

The current Administration has put in place an amazingly complex web of enforcement practices that have moved the U.S. from what often had been called “catch and release” to what we might now label “deter and deport.” My learning curve was steep and swift, even for someone with a law degree and a long business career in systems engineering.

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