Dem lawmaker says she helped group of migrants enter U.S., apply for asylum

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Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) joined a group of migrants Saturday afternoon as they entered the U.S. and applied for asylum.

The congresswoman, who arrived in Tijuana, Mexico on Friday, told Politico earlier Friday that she wanted to see the conditions asylum seekers face when attempting to apply for U.S. residence at the border for herself.

“When I read the report about a week ago that kids and moms were being tear gassed, I just couldn’t sleep,” Jayapal told Politico on Saturday. “I want to go see for myself what is happening, what happens to asylum seekers as they get to the border, how are they turned back, what’s happening to them in between, where the conditions in which they’re living.”

{mosads}The congresswoman’s office told The Hill Saturday afternoon that Jayapal was hoping to meet with asylum seekers.

“She hopes to meet with asylum seekers to hear their stories and observe conditions on the ground. She hopes to bring this back to the American people and her colleagues and highlight the ongoing crisis and the US government’s contribution to what’s happening,” Jayapal spokesman told The Hill in an email.

Later in the day, Jayapal tweeted that she helped a group of migrants in the area, including a man suffering from a “serious medical condition,” avoid being turned away by U.S. authorities “in violation of of U.S. and international law,” and then witnessed their applications for asylum.

“It shouldn’t take intervention from a Member of Congress and an incredibly compassionate Border Patrol Chief for those fleeing violence and persecution to seek asylum in the United States,” Jayapal tweeted.

“I will continue to do everything I can to return our country to one that upholds decency, compassion and human rights,” the Washington state Democrat added.

Jayapal, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, also told Politico that she plans to present her findings to the panel and examine the use of tear gas last week by U.S. authorities against migrants.

“We’re going to dive into all of that because this is a central role of the Judiciary Committee, to have oversight on these issues, to make sure we’re in line with our Constitution and our internal human rights obligations,” she told the webstie. “We’re in violation of that on a number of fronts as far as immigrants go.”

Photos last month showed migrants including women and small children running from tear gas fired by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, resulting in widespread criticism of the Trump administration for its treatment of asylum seekers.

President Trump defended the deployment of tear gas against migrants this week, calling the substance used at the border a “minor form” of the gas.

“First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe,” Trump told reporters.

“But you really say, why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming? And it’s going to be formed and they’re running up with a child,” he added.


This article was updated at 4:12 p.m. on 12/2/18 to reflect that U.S. authorities attempted to turn migrants away at the border.


Tags Asylum claims Donald Trump House Judiciary Committee Immigration Pramila Jayapal Pramila Jayapal Trump administration

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