In the bleak hellscape of Donald Trump’s immigration policy, we occasionally get glimpses of hope and moments of good news, like this story of how several members of Congress managed to get help for a 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome and a heart condition. The girl and her family — her mother and an eight-year-old brother — fled Central America, and had passed an initial screening in their asylum case. But under the Trump administration’s latest strategy to restrict asylum, they were still forced to stay for three months in an unsafe camp in Matamoros, Mexico. Earlier this month, a congressional delegation managed to arrange entry to the US for the girl and her family, a day after US Customs and Border Protection had refused to let her into the country.
Why yes, the USA is happy to let kids face death, at least until somebody with connections steps in on their behalf.
Mind you, the Orwellian-sounding “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) policy — aka the more Trumpian “Remain in Mexico” policy — is supposed to include an exemption for people with disabilities or serious medical issues, because we’re not monsters, are we? Of course we are! The day before the congressional delegation intervened, Border Patrol officials had denied entry to the family, even though the girl’s doctor had given her volunteer lawyer a letter explaining she needed an evaluation by a heart specialist and possibly even surgery. The girl had no access to such care in Mexico, and her condition was pretty serious:
The girl is pale and has poor blood circulation, according to Kim Hunter, an immigration lawyer volunteering with Lawyers for Good Government. She gets tired when she plays and can only speak in two- or three-word sentences, according to Marie DeLuca, a doctor who is volunteering at a clinic in Matamoros.
A specialist in Philadelphia has agreed to evaluate and treat the girl, lawyers said, but border agents would have to allow her into the U.S. first.
The migrant camp in Matamoros posed a serious risk, since diseases spread easily in the crowded conditions.
But nah, the Border Patrol wasn’t about to let that little girl and her family invade America! Why? Because the agents decided she wasn’t facing a “medical emergency,” so her serious medical risk didn’t count. Come back when you’re almost dead and maybe we’ll see about getting you to an ER.
As we’ve reminded you a few times, the Trump administration’s New Cruelty regime toward immigrant families has shifted since last summer’s horror stories of children being warehoused in filthy, overcrowded Border Patrol concentration camps and a network of baby jails — some run as for-profit enterprises — across the US.
But with the enactment of MPP last year, the baby jails are now “only” housing — still badly! — undocumented kids who cross the border alone, and the overcrowding crisis Trump created through his desire to lock up all undocumented border-crossers has largely gone away, except for the few kids still being separated from their families to prevent “trafficking.” Instead, the crisis and the immigrants have been moved to Mexico, and sometimes Guatemala, because if children of asylum-seekers don’t die in American custody, it’s not America’s problem.
The “protection” provided to asylum seekers by the MPP program is similar to how Trump’s EPA “protects” the environment: families have to wait for court hearings in crowded, unsafe camps or shelters in border cities, where they’re frequently targeted by drug cartels for kidnapping and their kids can be pressured, on pain of death, to join the gangs. And even when people win their asylum cases, the Trump Cartel still finds ways to cheat, sometimes using fake paperwork to prevent entry to the US.
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-California), one of the five House members looking into conditions at the camp in Matamoros two weeks ago, issued a statement noting that after the delegation demanded some answers about why the girl was being denied entry under the MPP’s exemption for those with serious health conditions, the border officials relented. But that’s hardly enough, she said:
We’re grateful this six-year old with a heart condition will now get the care she requires, but it shouldn’t have taken five members of Congress to be present for CBP to follow official guidelines and allow vulnerable migrants to be taken out of the Remain-in-Mexico program and wait in the United States.
Further, Barragán condemned the conditions in the camp, noting that asking for asylum is not a crime, and that asylum seekers at the Matamoros site have no clean running water and live in makeshift tents made from plastic bags. They face dangers from crime, drug cartel kidnappers and poisonous snakes, among other unsafe and unsanitary conditions. It is no place for any child, certainly not one with a heart condition and Down syndrome.
Yr Wonkette contacted the offices of Rep. Barragán and another member of the delegation, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), as well as Lawyers for Good Government, to ask for updates on the girl’s medical condition and her family’s situation since they were allowed into the country. Ron Eckstein, communication director for Rep. Barragán, said the Congressional Hispanic Caucus had received word that the girl is now getting medical treatment from that doctor in Philadelphia. We’re still waiting to get more information on her familiy’s situation, particularly whether they’re going to remain free while their asylum case moves forward, or, Crom forbid, if they’re being held in one of ICE’s family detention centers while their case moves forward. We’ll let you know what we find out.
In the meantime, vote and campaign against the Trump agenda like lives depend on it, because they do.