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Thu Jul 9, 2020, 12:34 AM

E Pluribus Unum is on the ballot this November.by Jill Biden and Julissa Reynoso

'A few days before Christmas, while we served tamales at a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the border from Brownsville, Tex., an asylum seeker told us about her journey north from Honduras. While she spoke, her 6-year-old son wrapped himself tightly around her body as though she could be taken away from him at any moment — a feeling familiar to many moms. He had reason to be cautious — after all, his mother had been kidnapped from the camp just a few months before.

A rough, dark scar on her face told the story: After a long and dangerous trip to the border, fleeing violence with her children, she had been abducted by members of a cartel waiting outside the camp to take advantage of asylum seekers. She was abused and injured in a knife attack, then ransomed back to her family.

Though we have both traveled the world and witnessed the aftershocks of violence and war in many countries, it is devastating to see such desperation so close to home. Hundreds of miles from family and friends, these asylum seekers have found little protection from the elements in rows of ramshackle, temporary tarps that line the Rio Grande. Their shelters can be removed at any time and, without infrastructure, food and water contamination is common, leaving the most vulnerable sick and weak. Around the camp, cartels wait to exploit the desperate.

Until recently, the United States offered due process to these asylum seekers inside the safety of the U.S. border as their claims were processed. Over the past few years, however, shortsighted and cruel policies have left thousands to suffer, stuck in limbo at our border. First, they must wait months to even request asylum because of “metering” policies, then return to Mexico for a decision that may never come.

Recently, the Trump administration proposed a new rule that would further strip away protections from those fleeing violence and oppression. The rule would reduce the number of asylum seekers admitted into the United States and force judges to deny the claims — no matter how righteous — of those arriving at our border from countries beyond Mexico. It would also make it nearly impossible for victims of domestic violence, gender-based violence or gang persecution to claim asylum.

Listening to the stories of those at Matamoros, we were reminded of our family members and friends who fled persecution, as well as the generations of immigrants who have contributed so much to this nation.

Who knows the value of liberty better than those who have fled tyranny? Who knows the value of justice better than those who have faced persecution and exploitation? Who knows the necessity of a strong community better than those who have escaped homes that have been torn apart? . .

Our nation deserves a president who understands we are a nation of immigrants, bound together not by national origin, but by a shared dream. Bound by our desire to live up to our own highest aspirations and by a promise: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.'


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