Hundreds Of Migrant Families Living On The Streets By Port of Entry Because It's Too "Dangerous" To Leave The Area, Hispanic Caucus Warns

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has slammed the Trump administration for forcing children to "live in horrific and inhuman conditions" in Mexican border towns due to its so-called Migrant Protection Protocols, or "Remain in Mexico" policy.

Pointing to a Human Rights First report, the Hispanic Caucus said that under the controversial rule, more than 1,000 families were being forced to live on the streets by the Matamoros port of entry, which shares a border with Brownsville, Texas, because they felt it was "too dangerous to leave the area."

In its report, released earlier this month, Human Rights First said researchers had observed an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 asylum seekers, "including hundreds of children and several breast-feeding infants, sleeping in some 300 tents in a plaza abutting the port of entry and in an adjoining park," while others were forced to sleep "without any cover on the pavement and sidewalks."

#MPP is forcing children to live in horrific & inhuman conditions; with no access to clean water or sanitation. Kids have diarrhea & are dehydrated.@humanrights1st found 1k+ families living on streets by the Matamoros port of entry because it’s too dangerous to leave the area.

— Hispanic Caucus (@HispanicCaucus) October 10, 2019

"Asylum seekers sleeping in the Matamoros port of entry plaza reported they are afraid to venture further into the city," it said.

"MPP is forcing children to live in horrific & inhuman conditions, with no access to clean water or sanitation," the Hispanic caucus said in a tweet. "Kids have diarrhea [and] are dehydrated," it said.

The Hispanic Caucus's warning came as a group of asylum seekers held a protest on Thursday at the international bridge connecting Matamoros and Brownsville.

The caucus said it would be "monitoring the protest," which appeared to be peaceful.

Sharing a photo of the protesters, BuzzFeed reporter Adolfo Flores said the situation was "calm" and that protesters were "sitting on the floor."

"Waiting in Matamoros isn't easy for immigrants," the journalist said. "They're kidnapped, assaulted and about 1k live on the streets."

In its report, Human Rights First said it had identified at least 343 cases in which asylum seekers affected by the Remain in Mexico policy had reported being "violently attacked or threatened in Mexico," including incidents of kidnapping, rape and other violence.

Despite being more than triple the 110 incidents Human Rights First said it had first identified in August, however, the organization said it believed its numbers were a "gross underestimate of the harm to returned asylum seekers."

"In Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, Tamaulipas, thousands of asylum seekers face acute dangers," the organization said.

Those dangers, it noted, are even outlined in the U.S.'s own travel advisory for Mexico, with Tamaulipas state listed as a "level 4: Do Not Travel" region due to "violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault" being "common."

The travel advisory further warns that "gang activity, including gun battles and blockades" is "widespread," while also flagging that "armed criminal groups" are known to "target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments."

Yet, Human Rights First said, the Department of Homeland Security "returns more than 1,000 asylum seekers there each face these extreme dangers for months as they await immigration hearings in the United States."

"Under the Trump Administration's MPP policy, DHS dumps asylum seekers in Mexico to wait for months even though they do not have access to adequate shelter, food, healthcare, or other humanitarian needs," the organization said in its report.

A young migrant from Honduras waits at the Mexico-United States border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico on September 12, 2019. SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty