NOGALES, Ariz. — Migrants, seeking asylum in the United States found themselves caught between a pandemic, border enforcement and politics.
The Kino Border Initiative organized a cross-border demonstration to protest the Trump Administration's halt of the asylum program.
Customs and Border Patrol officials have maintained throughout the year, the halt is a measure to protect Americans during the outbreak of COVID-19.
Communications Director for the Kino Border Initiative, Sara Ritchie, said migrants waiting for asylum face their own risks.
"In Mexico, in a place where they face danger. They face insecurity, and they're not able to put their children in school," Ritchie said.
FLEEING PERSECUTION IN VENEZUELA
Among those waiting, a woman, who asked KGUN9 to call her 'Josefina Ramirez' for her safety and that of her family.
She said she's escaping political persecution in Venezuela.
She described a process by which she was arrested there, interrogated and tortured, only to be subject to intimidation after she was released.
All this, she said, for speaking out against political figures.
She said she arrived in Nogales in January, applied for asylum at the border and was told by U.S. agents at the checkpoint, she would have to wait in Mexico for word on her case because of the Trump Administration's 'Migrant Protection Protocol.'
She said she and her children have been subject to assaults, persecution and extortion while waiting in Mexico.
SPOTLIGHT ON ASYLUM
While the attention in the United States has been focused on the upcoming Presidential election, Ritchie said her organization's goal is as much putting a spotlight on the issue of asylum, as it is feeding and sheltering migrants.
"It makes it harder for this issue to hit headlines, for it to be a personal that people have to deal with. So I think a lot of people in the U.S. and U.S. citizens are unaware."