Supreme Court Asylum Ruling Will Result in More Deaths and Disappearances at Southern Border

“How many more Oscar’s and Valeria’s will we allow to die before this nation will respond to humanitarian need with humanitarian care and compassion?”

Small white crosses with lables of the names of a father and young daughter who died crossing the US-Mexico border near BrownsvilleThe U.S. Supreme Court has allowed into effect a Trump policy that will all but end asylum at the southern border.

This decision will push asylum seekers desperate for protection to cross into the U.S. through dangerous wilderness and swift currents, instead of doing so safely at ports of entry. Many will die or disappear in the process.

Closing avenues for safe passage at the border has not prevented unauthorized crossing but rather has made them more deadly.

“This is devastating,” lamented Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director for La Unión del Pueblo Entero. “Here at the border, we are still reeling from the loss of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his almost two-year-old daughter, Valeria Martinez. Desperation drove them to cross through the river after being refused at a port of entry.”

In August, La Unión del Pueblo Entero and the RGV Equal Voice Network published an article in the Texas Observer that chronicles some of the recent deaths and disappearances of children at the Texas/Mexico border:

By now, most have seen the chilling photo of 25-year-old Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his almost two-year-old daughter, Valeria Martinez, who drowned in the river near Brownsville in late June.

Since then we’ve learned of Guatemalan mother, Maria Juan, and her 5-year-old daughter, Ashly Francisco, who drowned in irrigation canals swollen from heavy rain near El Paso. A mother, two infants, and a toddler from Guatemala died of dehydration and exposure after crossing the river near McAllen. The 2-year-old daughter of a Haitian woman went missing when the two attempted to cross the river near Del Rio, Texas.

These are just the cases involving small children. The deaths and disappearances of teens and adults are so common that they rarely garner media attention.

Closing avenues for safe passage at the border has not prevented unauthorized crossing but rather has made them more deadly.

“How many more Oscar’s and Valeria’s will we allow to die before this nation will respond to humanitarian need with humanitarian care and compassion?” Valdez-Cox asked. “Border residents are already demonstrating a humanitarian response every day, welcoming asylum seekers, delivering meals, and reuniting families. Congress and the administration should do their part.”

Valdez-Cox continued, “Border residents have long joined across differences to demand border policies that uphold our rights and our values. We know how to expand public safety, protect human rights, and welcome residents and newcomers. Our nation needs a new border vision so we can win fair and safe border policies that uphold the rights and opportunities of newcomer and resident alike.”

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