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Migrants Report Cash Transactions Between Mexican Officials to Allow Them Access to US Border

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A number of migrants are alleging that Mexican officials at the U.S. border are charging substantial sums of money to gain access to make asylum claims in the U.S.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Mexicans are overseeing a list, which they are using to decide who is allowed to cross two bridges over the Rio Grande into Brownsville, Texas from Matamoras, Mexico.

Cuban asylum seeker Elvis Gonzalez Rodriguez, 23, said that when he arrived at one of the bridges over the Rio Grande last week, a uniformed Mexican immigration official demanded he pay $1,000 to cross. When Rodriguez refused, the official made him leave.

“There’s a lot of corruption here,” Rodriguez, an electrician from Havana said. “It’s the responsibility of Mexican officials to protect immigrants. I want to come the correct, legal way.”

He wants U.S. officials to help asylum seekers and investigate what’s happening on the bridges.

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“They need to help us,” he said. “They need to know about the corruption, how it’s a business to pass here.”

The Times reported that another Cuban asylum seeker said a uniformed Mexican immigration official “demanded $500 to get her across the old bridge after she arrived at Matamoros airport in mid-October.”

She told the paper that other Cubans seeking asylum called her cellphone after crossing the bridge into the U.S. saying the Mexican officials made them pay between $100 and $300 to move to the front of the line.

“They are. I know that’s a fact,” said Michael Seifert, an ACLU border advocacy strategist in Brownsville. “It’s only gotten worse. It’s gotten more expensive. The Cubans are targeted because they have money.”

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Seifert said that African immigrants are forced to wait weeks because “they don’t speak enough Spanish to understand the bribe.”

Asylum seekers from Cameroon reported being falsely told by Mexican officials in Matamoros that the U.S. was not accepting more Africans.

Michael Randy, 30, who is from Cameroon, said he was able to speak with U.S. customs officers at the bridge, who assured him the claim was false.

Randy told The Times he fled Cameroon after police shot his younger brother and raped his wife in front of him and burned down the home they shared with their 2- and 3-year-old daughters. He recounted that he was imprisoned and tortured for 77 days.

“It’s not fair,” Randy said of how Mexico is handling the border crossings. “I could stay for a month — there’s no certain time.”

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Christina Patiño Houle of the nonprofit Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network said the situation needs to be addressed.

“These are incredibly dangerous areas where these individuals are waiting for days and weeks to enter the bridge. We sometimes have pregnant women, women with toddlers, who are sent back into territories that are managed openly by cartels,” she said.

The Times reached out to Customs and Border Protection regarding claims of Mexican officials charging asylum seekers to cross bridges into the U.S. and was told the matter should be taken up with Mexico.

“Mexico is a sovereign nation, and our authorities do not cross international boundaries,” the agency said in a statement. “Actions of Mexican officials, or people in Mexico, should be addressed to the government of Mexico including any actions taken on the Mexican side of bridges and in the border cities of Mexico.”

The CBP said that asylum seekers are “processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

CBP told the Times it “does take into consideration persons with medical emergencies, unaccompanied alien children, the disabled, and gives priority as we can, bearing in mind the day-to-day availability of resources, case complexity, holding space, port volume and enforcement actions.”

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 2,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Birthplace
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Graduated dean's list from West Point
Education
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith




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