Reps. Jimmy Gomez and Nanette Barragán Travel to Southern Border to Investigate Conditions of Asylum Seekers

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Los Angeles, December 18, 2018 | comments

Los Angeles, CA – Yesterday, Reps. Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) and Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to investigate reports that the Trump administration is illegally rejecting asylum seekers at official ports of entry. The Members traveled with immigration groups including Al Otro Lado, Families Belong Together, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Reps. Gomez and Barragán observed a group of asylum seekers present themselves at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry where officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) denied entry to a group of migrants for several hours and claimed their facility was at capacity. After questioning CBP on their capacity issues, Reps. Gomez and Barragán requested to see the facility, but the officials refused to let the Members inside. While at the border, they were able to get a firsthand account of what was happening on the ground and escorted a group of asylum seekers who legally presented themselves on U.S. territory. Among them was Maria Meza and her children, who were previously seen fleeing tear gas at the border last month. 

“As a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I went down to the border to ensure the Trump administration was treating migrant families in a humane and lawful manner — but what I found was a manufactured crisis,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez. “This administration is falsely telling the world that it is unable to handle the flow of migrants due to a lack of resources. In reality, their faulty policies are creating a bottleneck that is preventing families from lawfully seeking asylum. Thanks to pressure from myself, Representative Barragán, and a number of organizations, border authorities have finally allowed a number of families to enter the U.S. to be processed for asylum — including that of Maria Meza, who is now known across the world for the photos of her family fleeing a U.S. tear gas attack. As I return to Washington, I’ll work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that every family at the border is treated in accordance with our values as well as United States law.”

“Time and time again I have heard from Trump Administration officials that people are free to seek asylum legally by presenting themselves at any U.S. port of entry,” said Rep. Barragán. “Yesterday, I stood at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, on U.S. soil, and saw a group of migrants, including unaccompanied minors who fear for their safety, be turned away despite being on U.S. soil. People are told that they must follow the law but when migrants seeking asylum attempt to do so, they are turned away. It shouldn’t have to take a Member of Congress to go to the border so that CBP can process migrants like Maria Meza and her daughters.”

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