By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
With President Donald J. Trump continuing his heated anti-immigrant rhetoric, Maryland’s 9th District Congressman Anthony Brown joined a bi-partisan group of United States Representatives, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on a fact finding mission to the northern territory of Central America and detention camps in McAllen,Texas.
“We didn’t come to visit and go home,” Pelosi said after visiting border detention facilities in McAllen, Texas. We came to listen, learn, and share our thoughts, so we can have better public policy.”
The group of American elected officials got a glimpse of detention conditions for migrants and met with asylum-seeking families during their three-day trip. The 12-person delegation visited Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
“We came here to make sure we are honoring the dignity of the immigrants coming into our country, that the conditions meet their needs, but also respect their dignity and honor the values of America,” Pelosi said, according to a statement.
“When we don’t respect the dignity of all of those migrants, we lessen ourselves.”
The delegation had a series of, what Pelosi’s twitter account called, “productive meetings” with non-governmental organizations, civil society, and justice sector leaders. Speaker Pelosi also called it “particular honor” to be with the family of Berta Caceres, as they work to continue the fight for justice and human rights in her memory. Cáceres, a winner of the Goldman prize for environmental defenders, was shot dead late at night on March 2, 2016 – two days before her 45th birthday – after a long battle to stop construction of an internationally financed hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque river, which is considered sacred ground.
“Any time Members of Congress have a Congressional delegation make a visit to another country, it’s about security for both of our countries and stability in the region,” said Pelosi. “That stability is served by prosperity, which is shared — should be shared by many more people than it is.”
U.S. Representatives also met with El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele. They discussed the need to address the drivers of migration.
The delegation also paid homage to the 1989 Jesuit priests massacre while meeting the U.S. Marine detachment who serve at the embassy.
“The United States must be committed to a real partnership and a whole-of-government approach to help deliver on the promise of prosperity, security and governance for the people across Central America,” said Congressman Brown. “With millions of immigrants from the region living and working in the United States and making extraordinary contributions to our country, it is critical that we honor the rich diversity that keeps our communities strong.”
After visiting the detention facilities in Texas, Pelosi spoke of cooperation amongst the nations in this hemisphere to make Temporary Protected Status permanent. She stressed that would give the immigrants the option to stay in the United States or if they choose to return home it would be a better place.
“We’re neighbors, this is our hemisphere, we share it together. We have to cooperate to build a better situation,” Pelosi said. “So then we will be able to say, ‘Stay if you wish, but when you go home, you will have a safe place to take your family to thrive.’”
“These immigrants make America more American with their values,” she added.