Bishop walks migrants across US border bridge to protest Trump policy

The Roman Catholic bishop says that the conditions for migrants on both sides of the US-Mexico border are 'deteriorating'

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver
New York
Friday 28 June 2019 18:03 BST
El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz prepares to escort a 9-year-old Honduran girl before they cross a border entry bridge into the US.
El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz prepares to escort a 9-year-old Honduran girl before they cross a border entry bridge into the US. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A Texas bishop walked with Central American migrants across and US-Mexico border bridge in protest of conditions asylum seekers face under the Trump Administration.

Mark J Seitz, a Roman Catholic bishop, walked across the Lerdo International Bridge in El Paso with migrants as part of his “Faith Action” protest.

The bishop, who is originally from Wisconsin, prayed with and walked a Honduran family of five across the border bridge as they went to make an asylum claim with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), reports the Dallas Morning News.

Bishop Seitz’s protest opposes the Trump Administration’s immigration policy, specifically the Migrant Protection Protocols.

The Migrant Protection Protocols require migrants who seek asylum by crossing the El Paso bridge to return to Mexico as they wait for border agents to process their claims.

The waiting period for asylum seekers can last from weeks to months.

The Dallas Morning News reports that over 15,000 migrants have been sent back to Mexico from the US as their asylum claims are reviewed. Anywhere from 100 to 200 migrants are sent back to Mexico daily.

“As a Catholic and Christian leader on the border, I am often called to be a doctor of the soul,” said Bishop Seitz to reporters in both Spanish and English.

He continued: “Standing here at the U.S.-Mexico border, how do we begin to diagnose the soul of our country?”

“A government and society which view fleeing children and families as threats. A government which treats children in U.S. custody worse than animals. A government and society who turn their backs on pregnant mothers, babies and families and make them wait in Ciudad Juarez without a thought to the crushing consequences on this challenged city.”

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Decrying the Migrant Protection Protocols, the bishop claims that in Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican town which migrants are forced to return to from El Paso, “there is a critical lack of access to shelter, food, legal aid and basic services”.

It is also reported that the Ciudad Juarez has a higher than average murder rate, with smugglers and drug dealers preying on newly arrived migrants.

Bishop Seitz continued: “This government and this society are not well.”

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