Camps for asylum seekers waiting across Mexican border are being targeted by gangs and cartels

Camps for asylum seekers waiting across Mexican border are being targeted by gangs and cartels
AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File
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Asylum seekers at the United States’ southern border say that the camps that they are housed in across the Mexican border are plagued with the criminality they sought to escape from their home countries. They say that the situation has yet to be addressed.

Conditions of migrant detention facilities appear not to have improved since grim details of the facilities, which showed overcrowding, surfaced earlier this year. Speaking to NBC News, a volunteer who helps to handle child welfare at one of the nation’s largest border camps across the southern border said that residents awaiting their time in court live in constant fear of drug gangs and cartels, which she says behave with impunity.

Felicia Rangel-Samporano, who runs a non-profit education organization for asylum-seeking children, said that gang members simply “come into the plaza.” 

“They drag a person away. You hear the person screaming for help. Everyone stands around and watches, which is understandable. No one wants to die,” she said. The volunteer told NBC News that at least six people were kidnapped from the plaza two weeks ago. 

“Compounding the human bottleneck at the border are smugglers feeding misinformation to many of the migrants, convincing them with false promises that President Joe Biden will further ease border restrictions,” NBC reports. “The dire conditions of migrants at the plaza has prompted Rangel-Samponaro and her colleague, Victor Cavazos, to take on the job of pre-interviewing migrants to see if they qualify for asylum. Crowds surround them when they arrive at the plaza, begging for the coveted referral to immigration attorneys.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said this week in a press conference in Guatemala that migrants should not make the journey to the United States. “Do not come. Do not come,” she said. Harris has yet to visit the southern border or the detention facilities where thousands of migrants are currently being housed.

“I think most of it is the perception that Biden won and now everyone can come into the U.S.,” Rangel-Samponaro said. “Sadly, we’re the ones that have to tell them that’s not the case. No one should be living out there. This is wrong and no one should be okay with this.”

Detention camps in the United States may not struggle with unmitigated criminality, but a new report from the BBC uncovered allegations of “cold temperatures, sickness, neglect, lice, and filth” in facilities where over 20,000 children are reported to be housed.

“Boys have been in there for 45 days straight with no sunlight, no recreation outside, no fresh air, no nothing,” said a staffer to the outlet. ‘They are all depressed. I heard the other day that several were contemplating suicide because of the conditions here.”

“They are being treated like prisoners, like inmates,” he added. “It’s haunting that this center has not been able to meet the minimal standards of caring for unaccompanied minors.”

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