Asylum Seekers Forced to 'Remain in Mexico' Fear for Safety Amid Hurricane Hanna

Concerns are being raised for the safety of asylum seekers forced to "Remain in Mexico" at a border camp in Matamoros under the Trump administration's Migration Protection Protocols amid Hurricane Hanna, which became a tropical storm on Sunday morning.

Videos posted to Twitter earlier in the day show the Matamoros border camp being hit by heavy rains and flooding as tents are blown around in the wind.

In one video, taken at 3 a.m. and published online by Dr. Belinda Arriaga, an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco and a member of the Bay Area Border Relief team, heavy rain can be seen pouring down on the encampment.

The situation, Arriaga, who is ongoing communication with asylum seekers living at the encampment, told Newsweek, "is really bad."

Children and parents at the site, Arriaga said, are scared for their safety, as well as their health at the encampment.

"I get calls from kids regularly," she said. "They're telling me they're exhausted, they're scared."

In a separate Twitter post, Arriaga called on lawmakers, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Filemon Vela and the Hispanic Caucus, to take action to protect asylum seekers forced to Remain in Mexico.

"What can we do to bring them to safety? #EndMPP," Arriaga wrote. For the asylum seekers trapped in Matamoros, she said, "everyday is danger."

Newsweek has contacted the offices of Ocasio-Cortez, Vela and the Hispanic Caucus office for a response to Arriaga's plea.

3 am at the Southern Border asylum seekers testimony
weathering the storm in tents “the rain is hard it’s flooding and we are all alone here very alone” ⁦@RepFilemonVela⁩ ⁦@HispanicCaucus⁩ ⁦@AOC⁩ what can we do to bring them to safety? #EndMPP Everyday is danger pic.twitter.com/2Q7VpMxMzC

— Dr. Belinda Arriaga (@belindaHarriaga) July 26, 2020

Her request for assistance for asylum seekers at the Matamoros campsite comes as the border town is expected to face several day of thunderstorms amid tropical storm Hanna.

The storm represents the latest hurdle that asylum seekers must face as they wait for the U.S. asylum system to start up again after it was effectively ground to a halt in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Right now, the storm is a huge situation because the hurricane was coming towards them. Luckily it averted and it's not right on top of them but they're living in a bad situation with tents that have been, many of them have been there for a year."

"They've been getting this weather has been really brutal to them this summer," she said. "They've just had another storm awhile back and they were barely making it out of that one. Emotionally, they're just really defeated in many ways."

Some of the asylum seekers at the site have been forced to wait in Mexico for more than a year while their asylum claims are processed in the U.S. under the Trump administration's MPP, or "Remain in Mexico" policy.

Overall, tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been forced to wait in Mexico under the policy, including during the coronavirus outbreak, which has seen a number of positive cases identified at the Matamoros campsite.

Organizations like Global Response Management and Team Brownsville have been working to provide food, comfort and medical care for asylum seekers at the Matamoros campsite.

In the wake of the pandemic, however, providing assistance at the campsite has become more difficult.

The Trump administration, they have said, has failed to offer any support, while the Mexican government has provided limited support.

"This is a humanitarian crisis," Arriaga said. "and the U.S. has left them alone."

"We have to get them out of this crisis. Especially the children and the babies," she said. "There are brand new babies there, living in tents, in the dirt in the worst conditions and now with this storm. It's just shocking."

Newsweek contacted the White House for comment.

This article has been updated with comments from Dr. Belinda Arriaga.

Matamoros
Central American asylum seekers walk through an immigrant camp on December 08, 2019 in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico. Fears have been raised for the safety of asylum seekers at the camp amid Hurricane Hanna. John Moore/Getty