Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas invited President Joe Biden to witness the migrant crisis for what would be his first trip to the southern border as president.
Thousands of migrants resorted to staying in dangerous tent cities in Mexican border towns after the Trump administration implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols (also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy) in 2019 and the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s efforts to repeal that policy, Catholic Charities Executive Director Norma Pimentel said in an op-ed published by The Washington Post.
Pimentel asked Biden to visit the Rio Grande Valley and negotiate with Mexican officials to secure more humane conditions for the migrants. In the op-ed published Monday in the Post, she appealed to the president’s Catholic faith to provide humanitarian assistance to the migrants.
“I invite you to come and see for yourself, as your wife did in 2019, what is happening on the border,” Pimentel writes. “There are many layers to the immigration realities behind the strident political rhetoric that dominates and obscures the issue today. But we must find ways to counter what Pope Francis calls a ‘globalization of indifference.’”
Families of illegal immigrants have lived in the camps for up to two years as they wait for a decision on their immigration cases, Pimentel writes. The camps are affected by extreme heat and intermittent rain that turns the ground into thick mud and floods tents, while drug cartels plague the border towns with violence.
“We must not make children live for months in rain-logged tents,” Pimentel writes. “We cannot abandon them to communities where their mothers are afraid to let them use the bathroom at night for fear they might encounter a gang member or be assaulted.”
In the op-ed, the Catholic Charities leader asks Biden to consider allowing illegal immigrants into the U.S. on humanitarian parole or working with Mexican officials to allow the U.S. Agency for International Development to donate food, medical attention, and housing for those waiting at the border.
An estimated 5,000 migrants are staying at a makeshift camp in Reynosa, Mexico, across the border from McAllen, Texas, according to Pimentel.
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