CBP paroles deaf migrant, allowing her to wait out asylum process on US soil

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (Border Report) — There were plenty of hugs and tears as a deaf woman from El Salvador stepped on U.S. soil in for the first time Friday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection paroled the woman and three family members, allowing them to legally remain in the United States while they await their asylum hearings.

The release of the woman — whose identity is not known and her lawyers requested to remain anonymous — is unusual when asylum-seekers are forced to remain in Mexico during their immigration hearings as part of President Donald Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as Remain in Mexico.

The woman was among 12 migrants whom Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro attempted to help cross into the United States from Matamoros, Mexico, when he visited the area on Oct. 7. But she and the 11 others later that afternoon were all returned to Mexico.

There are close to 2,000 MPP migrants currently living on the other side of the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico, in a filthy tent encampment while their await their U.S. asylum hearings.

But as the clock struck noon on Friday, the woman, her 5-year-old son, her mother and another woman emerged smiling and crying and hugging from the CBP offices at the Gateway International Bridge where they had papers officially releasing them into the United States during their immigration hearing process.

“They allowed this family to be paroled into the United States. They were taken out of MPP and it’s wonderful. CBP counsel authorized their parole,” said Karla Vargas of the Texas Civil Rights Project, who was among the family’s pro-bono lawyers who fought for their release.

Vargas argued that under the Migrant Protection Protocols rules, migrants with disabilities are exempt from the program and should be allowed to remain in the United States during their immigration proceedings to access the necessary resources.

“This is a family with physical disabilities and it was particularly difficult for them to try and pursue their asylum case in any effective way, in particular, because of the disabilities this family faces. So we’re really happy and really grateful that CBP did exercise their discretion in this instance and did allow this family to be paroled into the United States,” Vargas said just moments after emerging from the CBP port of entry on Friday.

No more details as to where the family will live or when their next asylum hearing is scheduled were provided.

The deaf woman from El Salvador, her mother, her 5-year-old son and another woman are shown moments after being paroled in the United States in Brownsville, Texas, on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez).

“For now we’re just happy that they crossed and they don’t have to be back on the streets of Matamoros and that they can be a lot safer,” said Charlene D’Cruz, of Wisconsin, who came to South Texas as part of the nonprofit organization Lawyers for Good Government and who has been spearheading legal services for the MPPs in Matamoros for a few weeks.

It was D’Cruz who first spotted this family and learned that the woman can only sign with the help of her mother. She does not sign in Spanish, but in a special language “they have made up together,” Vargas told Border Report. The woman’s 5-year-old son also communicates with her in that language.

Read a previous Border Report story on Charlene D’Cruz here.

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro is seen at the entrance to the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas, on Oct. 7, 2019, where he tried to help 12 asylum-seeking migrants cross into the United States. Four of those migrants

Read a previous Border Report story on Castro’s visit here.

Read a Border Report story on the possible roundup of MPPs here.