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Matamoros asylum seeker safety in at risk

Updated: Feb 27, 2021

Diana Solis, Dallas Morning News

The violence in the state of Tamaulipas, where Matamoros sits, has forced about 2,000 asylum-seekers to cluster for protection here at the banks of the Rio Grande and along the Gateway International Bridge into Brownsville in Texas. A former Army nurse here estimates 18 people were kidnapped through October, probably by the dominant criminal group in this region. Then she stopped counting.

Many people here whisper about the dangers. Migrants are taken by the local cartel members and their lookouts, who openly walk into the camp, at any hour, said a Honduran who didn’t want to be identified because he feared for his safety. A Honduran woman who has been at the camp for several months said a man posing as an asylum-seeker within the camp has molested two small girls. “We can’t complain. It’s a mafia and they will come and beat us,” she said.

No one runs the camps. There are no controls for who enters the encampment. Some migrants have clustered their tents on the sidewalks leading to the nearby Gateway International Bridge to be ready if their asylum cases are called, but they’re also hoping for more safety. Passing cars provide a bit of light. But the vast majority of people, hundreds more, have secured space on the tree-lined grounds near the river where the camp has grown. They are the most vulnerable.

Traditionally, the United Nations refugee agency might be one of the groups that would play a role in organizing and running the place. But danger is keeping the usual help away.

Read the full article in the Dallas Morning News.

Image source/credit: Dallas Morning News, Lynda M. Gonzalez / Staff Photographer.

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