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Pramila Jayapal
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Rep. Jayapal helps 5 asylum seekers get across US-Mexico border

Congressmember Pramila Jayapal. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Five asylum seekers are now in the United States with the help of Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

“I’m in Tijuana, at the border at the Mexican side … since I saw the pictures of the tear gassing, I felt I needed to come down here and find out for myself what was happening and talk to people who are part of the caravan, asylum seekers, and talk with Mexican officials here,” Jayapal told KIRO Radio.

“There’s now a situation were there at thousands of people here,” she said. “This remain-in-Mexico policy that the president seems to be proposing, in my view, is unconstitutional, and does not allow us to comply with our own human rights laws, much less international human rights laws … people are trying to come in at legal ports of entry. This one is overcrowded …”

In a December 1 Facebook live video, Jayapal explains that when she was crossing over from Mexico to the United States, the five asylum seekers were in front of her at the border. But they were told the port was not accepting asylum seekers.

“I went and I identified myself and I was able to work with the CBP officials … and we were finally, after quite a bit of time, able to get (into the United States) two unaccompanied minors seeking asylum, one mother and her 9-year-old daughter, and one young man who was an adult and had been beaten in Honduras an suffered from severe medical conditions,” she said on the video. “And we were able to get them across the border. It was a beautiful moment, a very emotional moment as they were able to come in. We don’t know if they will be able to stay, but they were at least able to start the asylum process.”

Jayapal at the border

Jayapal said that she inspected a shelter at the Mexico-California border on Saturday. According to the Congress member, the shelter on the Mexican side will house up to 8,000 people. There’s about 1,500 people there now. She says the majority of people there seem to be from Honduras.

“We spent quite a bit of time in the one that houses families, and it was heartbreaking to see all the children,” Jayapal said.

“One woman who was with her three children, the father of her kids had been murdered,” she said. “She was very afraid for her life. She was threatened herself. Right before she left, she got a phone call, on top of a number of other death threats, saying she was going to be killed.”

Most of the people she spoke with in the family shelter are from Honduras, trying to flee violence.

Jayapal said that the conditions at the border are made worse by a manufactured problem, used for political reasons. She points the finger at President Trump and says that the current asylum process is creating a chokepoint, preventing people from claiming asylum.

“There is no crisis here on the border, except one that has been created, in my view, by this administration,” Jayapal said. “Mexico and the United States have worked closely together for years to process people properly … there’s an orderly process so people legitimately seeking asylum can seek asylum. We don’t want a situation where unaccompanied minors are standing here outside trying to seek asylum. They should go to the front of the line. That is not the case right now.”

“They have a process in place now that is a metering process where a very limited number of people are being processed every day, it’s creating a giant backlog,” she said.

Jayapal noted one interaction with a woman at the border — she asked her what she would like people in America to know.

“‘Please just tell them who we are and how afraid we are for our lives — this is a life and death situation,'” Jayapal quoted. “‘And I hope that God will touch the hearts of the American people.'”

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