A pregnant Mexican woman suffering complications was told by immigration officers that they couldn’t process her family’s asylum claim at the U.S. border on Saturday before a U.S. senator intervened to persuade the officers to take the woman to a Texas hospital.
While visiting a migrant shelter Saturday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) grew concerned about a woman who was 38 weeks pregnant and suffering from preeclampsia and other complications. The senator and his staff decided to take the woman, her husband and 3-year-old son to a port of entry to make their asylum claim.
At the Paso del Norte Bridge linking Juárez and El Paso, the family approached two Customs and Border Protection officers, presented their identification and said they wanted to request asylum. They then heard the words that tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been told for more than a year at the U.S.-Mexico border: “We’re full,” a CBP officer told them.
Wyden, who had followed behind the family along with an entourage of staff members and friends from Oregon, then stepped forward and identified himself. He told the officers that Mexicans are exempt from the “metering” program CBP has used to strictly control the number of people allowed to request asylum at ports of entry. He also told the officers the woman was late term in her pregnancy and suffering complications.
The officers called a supervisor, who arrived minutes later, and allowed the family to go to the port of entry to make their asylum claim.
Wyden was clearly shaken by his two-day visit to the border, which included a tour of CBP holding cells and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility. At the Juárez shelter, he met a 3-year-old boy who had stopped speaking after being held with his father by the U.S. Border Patrol and then sent back to Mexico. Wyden spoke with families who were required to stay in Mexico for six months before their first U.S. immigration court hearing.
First, there’s the fact that a senator knows more about immigration regulations than the actual agents working–and he is able to call them up immediately upon seeing the situation. Second, there’s the fact that so many people who are eligible to enter the U.S. are being denied. Third, there’s the sheer inhumanity of American fascism on the border. Fourth, read the language the CBP agent used! “We’re full.” What the hell does that even mean? That’s language drawn straight from our emerging fascism. It’s tremendously unprofessional, not that CBP agents care about professionalism. Instead of saying, “you do not fulfill the requirements for asylum status,” they just repeat the words from their “Fuck Off, We’re Full” t-shirts they love so much. This is the front line of American fascism.