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Asylum-seekers in Matamoros fear they’ll be forgotten

Updated: Feb 27, 2021

Diana Solis, Dallas Morning News

Hundreds of asylum-seekers are still holding on in a tent camp across the river from Brownsville. Poor health conditions and the threat of kidnappings and violence are with them always. They remain dispossessed of nearly everything but hope.

“All the fear just amplifies,” said Sister Norma Pimentel, the nun who runs Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and regularly visits the camp. “Their only hope was to be in the United States.”

As many as a thousand people are still living in the miserable, muddy camp along the banks of the river in Mexico, awaiting their chance at asylum in the U.S. Thousands more are living in the urban neighborhoods of Matamoros.

Things have worsened in recent months, but many in the U.S. and Mexico are still finding ways to help the immigrants through donations of money, food and supplies.'

About $100,000 in groceries, wood for stoves and supplies still flows monthly to Matamoros from Team Brownsville, one of the biggest aid groups in Brownsville. The Florida-based medical nonprofit Global Response Management operates a day clinic at the camp, providing health care and largely successfully combating COVID-19. North Texas residents still organize drives for tents and hygiene supplies. Other North Texas professionals work on video mental health assessments that will bolster asylum petitions.

Camp residents say they are grateful for fresh tents to replace those that are tattered and for groceries they need to cook their own food, but their sights are set a few hundred feet north beyond the camp, past the red arches of the Gateway International Bridge — on Texas.

Dallas-area groups like the nonprofit Rio Valley Relief Project continue to collect donations, or meet special needs like sending shower curtains for the bathing area of the camp or rubber shoes. When Cassie Stewart of the project is challenged to help those in the U.S., she just tells them: Need is need. “We are all deserving of life and all that has to offer,” Stewart said.

Read the full article in the Dallas Morning News

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

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