On the US-Mexico border as Cuban doctors seeking asylum treat immigrants

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JUAREZ, Mexico (NewsNation Now) — Thousands of asylum-seekers are waiting in border cities like Juarez, Mexico hoping to get a chance to cross the border.

In Juarez, the Hotel Flamingo has been converted into a shelter for migrants with symptoms of COVID-19 and migrants who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Leydy Gonzales is an asylum-seeker from Cuba and volunteers at the shelter with sick migrants. She says the Cuban government was trying to force her to go to Venezuela to practice medicine, so she fled to Mexico.

“When we arrived, we arrived on the Southern border of Mexico, and then the Federal Police stopped us, and they asked us for $1,000 to let us go through and not deliver us to immigration,” Dr. Gonzales said.

Dr. Gonzales says she has been waiting to enter the United States for a year and eight months.

She provides medical care to migrants like a woman named Tatiana, who has a newborn and fled El Salvador. She is hoping to claim asylum and enter El Paso with her 5-day-old baby.

“It was a really bad situation back there. Very dangerous. It was very difficult. We have had a hard time getting all the way here. We have been through ugly stuff. Thank God we are here now,” Tatiana said.

Most of the families in the shelter are from Central America and countries like Honduras and Guatemala.

The families downstairs at the hotel have symptoms of COVID-19. Upstairs is where the immigrants who have tested positive are recovering.

Cuban physician Adrian Reyes Gamez, who has been seeking asylum in the United States since 2019, takes care of the sickest people.

“We are giving them the attention and bringing food to their doorstep, checking on their temperature, checking their oxygen levels, making sure they take their medicine,” Dr. Gamez said.

Dr. Gamez, and the others here, say they have newfound hope since the Biden administration announced they would let about 25,000 asylum-seekers wait in the U.S. while their cases are processed.

“I registered on the web page and right now I am waiting for the confirmation call,” Dr. Gamez said.

Only a small amount of asylum-seekers have been let into the country to wait for their court process to play out. The pandemic has delayed court hearings.

Esther Valdes, a principal attorney who represents immigrants before immigration court, joined NewsNation to discuss the rise of illegal border crossings and new reform from the Biden administration.

Watch the full discussion in the player below.

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