Congress attempts to eviscerate asylum protections and exacerbate dangers to migrants
SAN DIEGO, CA — On February 6 at approximately 1:30 AM, a migrant died in the Tijuana River on the U.S. side of the border in San Ysidro. According to local news reporting, he was found and pronounced dead by San Diego Fire-Rescue Department along a canal near two open-air detention sites. This marks the third death since Oct. 11 when a 29-year-old woman from Guinea lost her life. A second death, a man also from Guinea, occurred in the same area on Nov. 17. The identity and nationality of the man found yesterday are still unknown.
Since Sept. 7 of last year, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and other organizations on the ground have raised serious concerns about the conditions that cause continuous suffering in the absence of an orderly system for people to safely seek asylum. Instead, AFSC staff have witnessed daily desperation as people, unaware of the risks associated with unregulated crossings, present themselves to Border Patrol agents under dangerous conditions. According to volunteers providing humanitarian aid at a detention site called Whiskey 8, on the day of this most recent death over 100 people waited for over 10 hours between the border walls, soaked, and without any protection from a powerful storm flooding local rivers.
“While Senators debate eviscerating the asylum process with cruel and unnecessary immigration policies as a trade-off for funding genocide abroad, we continue to see how those same policies lead to deaths of migrants seeking asylum,” said Pedro Rios, Director of AFSC’s U.S.-Mexico Border Program. “President Biden must commit to protecting the asylum process, permitting migrants to safely seek asylum at the ports instead of relying on Border Patrol agents to force people to wait at open-air detention sites, exposing them to dangers and death.”
While tragedy marks our border region again, negotiations take place in Washington, DC on a border bill that threatens the right to asylum and proposes unprecedented funds for border enforcement and militarization. Policies like these have repeatedly harmed border communities and historically result in more deaths. AFSC has requested information from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Professional Responsibility for information about the death that occurred February 6 in San Ysidro, CA and is awaiting a response.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.