As of now, there are still thousands of asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border, waiting to see a court date. Their situation – already quite uncomfortable – is about to get even worse, thanks to the pandemic.
A recent NBC article speculates that border towns could become hotspots for COVID-19 during the summer. The shelters that asylum seekers occupy are hot, crowded spaces, where viruses spread easily; furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security projects that COVID-19 infections in Mexico will peak this June.
We asked three candidates for New York’s 12th Congressional District about how they would approach the issue, if elected. Here were their answers.
“For almost four years, we have seen the Trump administration terrorize immigrant families at the border. My parents arrived here in the 1960s in search of economic opportunity — no different than the thousands of mothers, fathers, and children caught in the throws of this cruel administration. I was the first candidate in New York State to call for the defunding of ICE, because it’s clear to me that the agency’s abuse of power is doing more harm than good. We need to close the camps, keep families together, and reunite those who have been separated.
“We need to ensure what processing facilities are necessary are clean, humane, and provide adequate testing, PPE, and medical staffing to our most vulnerable families. Throughout history, the separation of families has been used in this country as a tool of oppression – most often against families of color. That needs to end, and I would fight every day to create a humane system.”
“I would start by eliminating ICE and ensuring that no immigrants or asylum seekers are kept in cages, separated from their families and children, just for seeking a life here in the United States. Everyone who is detained by ICE should receive comprehensive testing and treatment funded by the federal government.”
“Plenty of Democrats will say that our border policies are cruel and racist, and that they violate human rights. But then they turn around and have these weird, wonky technocratic solutions that are only marginal, like providing more beds in ICE detention centers, or opening up the courts. Those are not solutions that solve the problem from a moral standpoint. As a Democratic Socialist, I think the entire argument is wrong; the ideas of border security and border enforcement are completely wrong and backwards. So you’ve got to put forth policy in line with those values.
“But in the immediate sense, you’ve got to protect people. You’ve got to protect people who are vulnerable, and there are few people more vulnerable than people in asylum centers at the border right now.”