- Jul 7, 2020
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post daily newspaper, Sister Norma Pimentel, known for her work with migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border near Brownsville, Texas, made a public plea July 6 to keep an eye on the plight of asylum-seekers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The recent decision by the Department of Homeland Security to extend restrictions on nonessential crossings of the southern border due to the COVID-19 pandemic did not surprise Catholics who work with migrants in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Leading Catholic organizations and individuals have released a list priorities for protecting migrants during the pandemic.
For years, Catholic-led, U.S.-based nonprofits have been at the forefront of efforts to support migrants and asylum seekers along the Mexican border. Tough new border policies, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, have drastically changed their work, much of which now takes place in Mexico.
The “Remain in Mexico” program has forced more than 60,000 asylum-seekers to wait on the Mexican side of the border as their claims are heard in U.S. courts. It has proved controversial as critics contend it destroyed the traditional asylum system.
Over the last year, Catholic dioceses on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico, in places such as El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, scrambled to accommodate the growing number of children, men and women crossing the border, seeking asylum and entering the U.S.