Tell our MoCs to go to the border!

I want to break the fourth wall for this action and write to you from me.

I’m Alex Fayer. I’ve been with Seattle Indivisible since the beginning. I serve on SI’s board, write daily actions, help organize events, and I just returned from a trip to the border to report back. I traveled to El Paso then on to Juarez on the Mexico side with Palmira Figueroa and Moema Umman. We met with the organizers, lawyers, and organizations attempting to advocate for asylum seekers. We also went to three different shelters in Juarez to meet with the asylum seekers themselves.

We were invited to a meeting with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden at the ACLU offices in El Paso the day before he traveled to Juarez. The next day at a shelter in Juarez, Senator Wyden became concerned about a pregnant woman with health complications. He decided to try to take the woman, her husband, and their three year old son to a port of entry to make their asylum claim.

Before he identified himself as a Senator, the family was told “We’re full,” by a CBP officer refusing to let them make an asylum claim. Wyden then identified himself as a Senator, a supervisor was called, and the family was able to make their claim.

“I feel very confident that if the family had tried to present alone, they would not have been allowed in,” said Taylor Levy, an immigration attorney who took us to two of the shelters and was also Senator Wyden’s guide in Juarez.

Senator Wyden was not fully prepared for the harsh reality we all experienced.

“These policies that I’ve seen are not what America is about. And in fact, what we saw with respect to the woman who is here today is just a blatant violation of U.S. law,” Wyden said.

Where were our Senators? Ask them!

We were fortunate to have Moema, a brilliant filmmaker, with us so we could document everything which we will share, along with many actionable areas we identified, at a community forum we will be holding in a few weeks, but know right now that there is no silver bullet.

I wanted to write this as Alex instead of SI mainly to let you know this trip was emotionally difficult. I’m still processing what I saw, but what I witnessed is nothing short of catastrophic.

Our MoCs need to see it for themselves. They will be moved to act.

The US effectively has ended our asylum system at the southern border through The Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP). This is the policy that requires all asylum seekers to return to Mexico while they wait for an immigration court date. The policy is being used as a legal argument to deny asylum claims. For example, when someone finally gets to court it’s nearly impossible to prove an asylum case when the US government argues that asylum is not needed since the person applying has been able to survive months in Mexico. This policy has massive implications that simply have not been adequately reported on.

The US has returned over 10,000 asylum seekers just from El Paso to Juarez to await a court case they will almost certainly lose. Juarez only has room in the shelters for about 1000 people which was not nearly enough capacity to meet the needs prior to the MPP policy. Now, the challenge is almost unfathomable.

There are only five to ten attorneys willing and able to work with the people waiting in Mexico, which means less than one percent will have legal representation, and almost all will lose their cases.

Rep. Jayapal has been to the border and also helped a family get into the US, but we need her to go again. To the best of my knowledge, she is our only MoC that has already gone.

ACTION: Tell our MoCs to go to the border.

Contact your Representative

Rep. Pramila Jayapal: DC – 202-225-3106; Seattle: 206-674-0040

Rep. Adam Smith: DC – 202-225-8901; Renton – 425-793-5180

Contact both Senators

Senator Patty Murray: DC – 202-224-2621; Seattle – 206-553-5545

Senator Maria Cantwell: DC – 202-224-3441; Seattle – 206-220-6400

Sample Script:

Hi, my name is {NAME} and I’m calling from {CITY, ZIP}. I am calling to demand {MoC} go to the southern border over this recess. The conditions are so catastrophic they are nearly unbelievable. {MoC} needs to see it for themselves and take action to halt what is becoming a genocide.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message. Please keep an eye out for the community forum where we will present concrete actions you can take to help.

Alex Fayer