House Progressive Leader Joins Caravan in Tijuana

The chairman of the House Progressive Caucus, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, went to Tijuana, Mexico and joined the caravan of migrants who traveled from Central America.

The congresswoman arrived in Tijuana on Friday after saying that she was going there because she wanted to see first-hand the conditions asylum seekers face at the border.

Jayapal joined the group of weary travelers on Saturday afternoon as they entered the U.S. and applied for asylum so they could remain in the United States.

“When I read the report about a week ago that kids and moms were being tear gassed, I just couldn’t sleep,” Jayapal said 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.”

The congresswoman’s office issued a statement Saturday saying that Jayapal had gone to Tijuana in order 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’s statement read.

Later on Saturday, Jayapal tweeted that she helped a group of migrants in the area, including a man suffering from a “serious medical condition,” avoid detention “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 also 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 is an up-and-coming leader among House Democrats. She is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and also co-founder of the House Medicare for All Caucus.

She told reporters on Saturday that she plans to present her findings to the Judiciary Committee. She said she will ask the committee to examine the use of tear gas against migrants last week by U.S. border patrol officers.

“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 said. “We’re in violation of that on a number of fronts as far as immigrants go.”

Widely publicized images last week showed asylum-seekers,  including women and small children, running from tear gas fired by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. This resulted once again in widespread criticism of the Trump administration for its harsh and probably illegal 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.

By going to the border and meeting with migrants seeking asylum in the United States, Pramila Jayapal has once again proven her commitment to doing the right thing. Our country would be much better off if every member of Congress was equally committed to following not only the laws, but also the ideals, of the United States of America.

Early this morning Jayapal posted a video on Twitter in which she describes her experiences in more detail. “Last night I went on Facebook Live to share what I saw at the border,” she said.