McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A day after the U.S. Supreme Court dealt the Biden administration a setback in ordering the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy to be reimplemented, a South Texas Catholic nun who’s worked directly with asylum-seeking migrants told Border Report that she had some harsh words for the program.
Formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols program, it was used heavily on the South Texas border to send thousands of migrants back to the Mexican border towns of Matamoros and Reynosa since the program went into effect in 2019.
Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which operates the region’s largest migrant shelter, saw first-hand the “suffering” migrants endured, having to live for upwards of two years in tents and filthy encampments across the Rio Grande from South Texas.
On Wednesday, she told Border Report she shuddered at the thought that this policy would again be used.
“The harshness of life they were enduring is inhumane. It’s not right. It’s not who we need to be. And so just to think that this is going to be coming back is not OK,” Pimentel said in McAllen, Texas, before watching a screening of a film “Missing in Brooks County” on migrants who die trying to cross the South Texas terrain from Mexico.
“Any laws and policies that contribute to human suffering is not a good policy and it needs to be revisited and reconsidered. Because my experience from MPP, all I was saw was a lot of human suffering on the other side of the border. People were exposed to so much suffering. It’s not fair. It’s not correct. It’s not morally correct. And so I’m concerned for families. I’m concerned for people who will be sent back to wait in Mexico for their asylum hearings as it was previously. It is wrong,” Pimentel said.
Referred to as the Pope’s “favorite nun,” Pimentel has a worldwide following and the ear of many lawmakers and world leaders on both sides of the border.
She has testified before Congress, the United Nations and visited the Vatican several times. She has been given honorary degrees and a special medal from Notre Dame University, and she often travels the country talking about what she has witnessed at the Texas-Mexico border.
She also was key to helping negotiate how the first migrants would safely be able to cross the Gateway International Bridge from Matamoros into Brownsville, Texas. And she helped to organize the crossing of other migrants from Reynosa into McAllen, Texas, and from Nuevo Laredo, into Laredo, Texas.
“We must have a more humane, more respectful policy to human life than MPP. And so I am hopeful that it is reconsidered and that it doesn’t move forward because ultimately the ones that pay for our policy that are not considerate of the dignity of the person is the families themselves,” she said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday night, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying the agency “respectfully disagrees with the district court’s decision and regrets that the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay … DHS remains committed to building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement a day after the Supreme Court ruling on MPP, calling it a “major victory for our state, our nation, and for the safety and security of our communities.”
“President Biden’s partisan reversal of this policy has helped fuel the record surge in illegal migrants and contributed to an environment on the border that is neither safe, orderly, nor humane,” Abbott said. “President Biden’s policies, including his brazen attempt to reverse the MPP, have benefitted the cartels and dangerous criminals at the expense of Texans. This decision will halt the Biden administration from skirting its duty to enforce federal immigration laws and will reduce the record number of migrants entering our country illegally.”