Storms Bring More Flooding To Camp Of Asylum Seekers Awaiting Court Hearings Across The River

Update June 4, 2020: An asylum seeker who lives and works in the camp on Wednesday sent a video in which he described flies that swarm the banks of the river. “We’re at the shore of the [Rio Grande] in Matamoros and like you can see, there are many flies. I have been here for a year and this is a bad fly — the green type. It puts eggs on your face and ruins your food and gives you a stomachache,” he said.

“All of those there are flies, and we’ve always had that issue here. You can see the injustices we have had to suffer. We have endured rain, mosquitoes, flies, flooding, heat, and because of that we cannot stand being here — us, the migrants. The bad flies have been here since we got here. Maybe on this cell phone you can’t see the quantity because they are tiny, but they have multiplied.”

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Storms forecasted through Thursday continue to pour rain down on the camp of asylum seekers just past the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Videos sent from a camp resident who has lived with his family in a tent along the levee for months show water seeping underneath a spanning white tent brought in by World Central Kitchen that has partially collapsed. Cots can be seen covered with towels, rainwater running underneath.

“This is what’s going on here. You can see the Rio Grande as it is right now. We are here at the border in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. We are very close to the camp and we can’t put up with this anymore. You can see the families here,” said a man from behind the camera in a video taken on Sunday evening. Signs held by four girls from behind the now fenced-in camp read, “Mr. President, we have been abandoned here. We want an opportunity, please,” and “No more closed borders”.

Video Credit: Asylum Seeker in Matamoros

A second video sent on Monday showed rain pouring down from a cell that passed over the area just after 3:00 p.m. “You can see what we are going through here; we can’t put up with the injustices anymore. Our tents are under the roof but still we have water inside under the tent. We don’t have a good drainage system and it’s very unfair what we are suffering here as migrants. Only those who have been here a long time know how strong the heat gets in the summer and how strong the cold gets in the winter,” said the man.

He noted the streams of rainwater pooling and flowing on the uneven ground. “And now, look at the strong rain. We are getting flooded and it has only been raining about 20 minutes. There are rivers here at the camp — this is what we have to suffer as migrants. Please, no more — there are whole families here with children. We can’t put up with this anymore.”

Video Credit: Asylum Seeker in Matamoros

In a third video, a tent constructed by Mexican officials, composed of thick, white tarp and metal poles can be seen collapsed under rain. “They put up these metal structures that supposedly are for us, the migrants, but they are a danger, as you can see — they fell with the rain. It is unfair what we are going through here. We can’t put up with it anymore,” the man said.

“This structure where we are located is a danger for us and for everyone — for the children, for the elderly. It is not fair that we have to be living on the streets. It is not fair. Please, no more MPP. We feel weak and we feel that we have been abandoned in this place.”

Video Credit: Asylum Seeker in Matamoros

In another video sent on Monday afternoon, the man behind the camera tells a colleague to be careful entering the damaged comedor. “Be careful — that thing will fall on you!” he yells across the levee. “As you can all see, the rain knocked down the structure. You can see the rain falling on the structure and how strong it is. We are suffering here; we can’t continue like this with this rain. We need help; we need an opportunity. Please help us. Look what the rain is doing to us,” he continued.

“Thank God we don’t have any injured…with this wind and rain, it’s very dangerous. The structure is very weak — it can’t handle the wind and rain. Please help us. We can’t continue to be here as migrants. We need to be in a safe place with our families.”

Video Credit: Asylum Seeker in Matamoros

Forecasts are predicting more rainfall overnight. Organizations assisting the migrants from Brownsville, Texas in real-time include Resource Center Matamoros, Angry Tias and Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, Team Brownsville, Global Response Management, and the Sidewalk School for Children Asylum Seekers. Aid work is ongoing and migrants are in touch with aid groups organizing supplies for use in the camp.

Update June 1, 2020: Staff at the Resource Center prepared to lay down more gravel and dirt on Monday afternoon. Organizers are working with volunteers to develop a wider strategy to address storm drainage. Meanwhile, Global Response Management is providing full-time healthcare services in collaboration with the Resource Center’s medical referral program. Tents, tarps, wooden palettes, rain gear and supplies for the free tent stores are being sourced by other aid groups. Team Brownsville continues to coordinate meals.

Update June 2, 2020: Rainwater damaged Team Brownsville’s library of books for the organization’s Escuelita de la Banqueta after the comedor under which they were stored partially collapsed on Monday afternoon. The organization is asking for donations to replace the books.

Journalist Nubia Reyna translated this article.