News Release

Camps Spread Along U.S.-Mexico Border: Deportation, Drug Cartels and a New Type of Status

ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent at gmail.com, @arunindy
Gupta is an investigative reporter published by The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, The Intercept, and dozens of other publications.

He said today: “Since President Donald Trump rolled out the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) in January 2019, more than 56,000 asylum-seekers have been forced back to Mexico. Refugee camps have sprung up in Mexico in some of the most dangerous cities in the Americas.”

Gupta is currently visiting a camp of 2,500 asylum-seekers in Matamoros, Mexico, across from Brownsville, Texas. See video of a tour around the camp. He said: “Residents have escaped violent gangs in Central America, paid bribes to cross borders at risk of death, and been kidnapped by deadly cartels and police once in Mexico. Those who survived the journey to Matamoros have been waiting weeks and months, pinning their hopes of gaining asylum into the United States. They express grave fear of returning to their countries, they don’t want to stay in Mexico because of similar dangers, and they can’t enter the United States because Trump is blocking them to whip up xenophobia and nationalism among his base this election year. By September 2019, of 9,500 asylum-seekers whose cases had been completed under MPP, only 11 were granted asylum. Because of this, the Matamoros camp is becoming permanent even as the U.S. and Mexican governments avoid designating residents as refugees, which would trigger legal responsibilities.

“The U.S. government is creating a new status of people on its border, with even less rights than official refugees. Filling the gap are civil society groups from both sides of the border who provide medical aid, meals, legal counsel, bedding, clothing, and tents. But one of the main beneficiaries of MPP has been drug cartels that profit from kidnapping, smuggling, and services and housing that the refugees require. The Matamoros camp itself is a new type of urban space appearing around the world. It’s part of a trend of people from the Americas to Europe to Asia fleeing war, violence, and climate chaos who lack basic rights. … They are concentrated in an area that is profitable to corporations involved in militarizing the border, powerful criminal gangs that prey on the migrants, and used by ethno-nationalist politicians like Donald Trump to whip up fear and hatred.”