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  • Linda Tomala

A System Designed to Make Life Hard

Since arriving at the border this summer, MPT has heard disturbing information and seen questionable actions that indicate that the process of asylum-seeking operates neither fairly nor squarely. The process has become more complicated, secretive and corrupt. Most readers of this blog already know about the illegal “metering” system. Instead of being welcomed into the US as international law states, an asylum seeker is given a number on a tiny piece of paper. Because that number will not be called for weeks or months, people have to find a place to stay until that number is reached. There is no way to tell exactly when the number will be called. Anywhere from 0 to 100 names may be called on any day, so asylum seekers must pack up their families and all of their possessions and get themselves to the border at 7 AM (sometimes requiring several hours of travel). They do this for several days in a row in order to be there when their number is called. If they miss the call, they must start over again by getting a new number and the wait continues. Today 60 new arrivals received their numbers while only 30 names of asylum seekers were called, and of those 30 names, a total of 15 people actually passed through to the US where their first stop will be detention centers for several weeks. One team member expressed to an English-speaking asylum seeker who was standing next to her that she was concerned that so many people were missing their call. The woman explained that many of those who were not there at this time had paid to get lower numbers and had passed through at an earlier date. The difference between the numbers that were distributed today and the numbers of the asylum seekers who were able to enter the U.S. represents 3240 individuals. That shows how many people are left waiting “in limbo,” stuck at the border, trying to find life’s basic needs: food, clothing, shelter. This life is hard. We hear that. We see that. We sense that. This life is hard. And the system seems designed to make it that way.

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