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Jayapal returns from border looking for asylum answers

Jayapal spoke about the US-Mexico border on Friday morning. (KIRO 7 image)

When Democrats take control of Congress next month, Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal will be demanding answers about the treatment of asylum seekers at the southern border. She visited the border crossing at Tijuana last Saturday.

She went in the wake of President Trump calling the migrant caravan an invasion.

“I would say they are less trying to achieve the American dream rather than fleeing reigns of terror,” said Jayapal at a Friday morning news conference in Seattle.

She says she met women with young children fleeing deadly domestic violence, and young teenagers fleeing gangs.

“One young man at the youth shelter that I spoke to, who had been shot in both knees showed me those wounds and had had to leave and showed me those wounds and had the message on his phone from his mother saying do not come back they will kill you if you come back here just go.”

Last month, Border Patrol agents used tear gas to keep migrants away from the U.S. border. Jayapal says once migrants get to the U.S. border, they are legally entitled to ask for asylum.

“Look I have a 21-year-old and I sat there talking to these kids who are 16, 17 years old, with gunshots. (I’m) going to get emotional,” she said choking back tears. “But you know, I don’t know how we’re doing this.”

In her visit, she found out why so many of those seeking asylum walk hundreds of miles through other countries in order to get to the United States.

“Several of them talked to me about how the gangs that they are trying to escape have presence in many of those countries, as well, so they can’t really escape those gangs.”

Jayapal will use what she learned at the border to question immigration officials when they testify before her in Congress.

“You will see us asking questions about how much it costs us to have troops at the border when they could be home having Thanksgiving dinner with the families. Instead, they’re there for a manufactured crisis.”

While she was at the border, Jayapal says she was able to get five people, including a 9-year-old and two unaccompanied minors, into the United States to begin their asylum applications. She called the Border Patrol Chief she worked with “incredibly compassionate.”

By Essex Porter, KIRO 7

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