Hundreds of migrants shut down a bridge connecting the Mexican city of Matamoros and Brownsville, Texas, early Thursday in protest of Trump administration policies that have forced tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases are decided.
Some 250-300 protesters marched from Matamoros to the middle of the bridge in the middle of the night and camped out there, according to the New York Times. The protesters sat in the car lanes and blocked traffic at the busy port of entry for several hours. At one point in the protest, children began chanting, “We want to study, we want to study!” according to the ACLU’s Rochelle Garza.
More than 50,000 migrants have been enrolled in the Remain in Mexico program since the Trump administration officially launched it in late January to limit the release of asylum-seekers into the U.S. Immigrants’ rights advocates have criticized the policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, for putting asylum-seekers in danger. The protesters were reportedly trying to draw attention to the squalid conditions they’ve been forced to live in because of the Remain in Mexico policy.
While some migrants forced to wait out their cases in Mexico have found apartments or live in shelters run by nonprofits and religious organizations, thousands of others live in makeshift encampments near the bridge, along with other migrants who haven’t even been able to ask for asylum yet because of the Trump administration’s “metering” policy, which limits how many people can cross into the U.S. each day. Migrants forced to wait in Mexico are frequently preyed on by gangs and drug cartels, who target them for kidnapping and extortion.
The Remain in Mexico program hasn’t just put migrants in danger; it’s also made it much harder for them to show up to their court dates, hindering their ability to be granted asylum in the U.S.
Cover: Migrants gather next to the border fence after camping out on the Gateway International Bridge that connects downtown Matamoros, Mexico with Brownsville, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Migrants wanting to request asylum camped out on the international bridge leading from Mexico into Brownsville, Texas, causing a closure of the span. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)