The tightening of regulations at the US-Mexico border is forcing many to choose legal routes to migrate, while the Mexican government prepares to receive those who have been rejected by Washington.
Mexican President, Andres Manuel López Obrador, on Saturday visited Texas’ neighboring Brownsville, a border point in the city of Matamoros (northeast) in the state of Tamaulipas.
The left-wing president responded briefly to reporters who questioned him about the migrant crisis, saying, “Now we are beginning to see that (…) You all have to be patient.”
And while irregular crossings are on the decline, efforts to gain regular entry into the United States are on the rise.
“I want to enter legally,” Venezuelan Gustavo Rodriguez told AFP in Matamoros, after Washington tightened measures against illegal immigration when the so-called Title 42, a law adopted in 2020, expired on Friday. The mechanism was reportedly meant to prevent Covid-19.
Although Title 42 was invoked in Mexico to execute the 2.8 million removals that managed to cross into the United States, now with Title 8, which remains in force, they can be deported to their countries of origin and Can be barred from requesting asylum afterwards.
If they are arrested, they will also be banned from re-entering for five years and can be punished. “The border is not open”, they repeat from the White House.
For this reason, crossing the Rio Grande is not on Rodríguez’s mind, as thousands of others were doing as of Thursday to present themselves to US agents and seek protection.
“I want to enter with the best benefits,” this military fugitive adds in a camp of multicolored tents spread along the road.
Venezuelans do not drop the CBP One Application, the mechanism established by the United States government to request an appointment and demonstrate that there is a need for asylum. The application has been shelved, despite the fact that Washington has promised to increase the number of daily appointments to 1,000.
The Mexican foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, assured that the flow of people towards the border was “going down”, in addition to the fact that there had been no violence at the border in the previous days, in contrast to the chaos that Washington had anticipated,
The immigration crisis is a hot potato for Democratic President Joe Biden, who will seek re-election in 2024, and a workhorse for his Republican rivals.
– Mexican blockade –
According to Ebrard, the low displacement of migrants coincides with Mexico’s decision to “not grant” documents for transit through the country.
However, on Mexico’s southern border, the arrival of migrants was maintained this Saturday, taking advantage of poor surveillance, although without seeing large numbers.
“They continue to cross as usual and have not strengthened the presence of the National Guard or the army,” Heyman Vazquez, a parish priest in Tapachula in the southern state of Chiapas, on the border with Guatemala, told AFP. The priest helps the foreigners with food.
Last Thursday, immigration officials closed a provisional center in the city where permits to cross into Mexico are granted.
The Guatemalan government anticipates a “very strong humanitarian situation” as it will have to shelter people who transit through the country while they “wait for their asylum procedures”, presidential secretary for communications Kevin López said on Friday. announced to
There are also family reunification programs and humanitarian permits for Venezuelans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Cubans among legal ways to migrate.
In any of these cases, the expatriates have to process it before reaching the ports of entry. Exceptions are few, such as if they were denied asylum in a country they came from on their way to the United States, if they are not able to access CBP One, or in the case of unaccompanied children. .
But getting an appointment at CPB One is a lottery. Under a tent in Matamoros where he cooks arepas with sausages, José Manuel Tovar of Venezuela counts himself lucky because after four months he got the chance to visit. “I cried, my family, all my colleagues were crying with joy,” he told AFP.
– No brakes-
His enthusiasm contrasts with the uneasiness of Venezuela’s Randy Vargas, who warns that sanctions will not stop migration.
“We’re talking about thousands of Venezuelans, right at the border, thousands coming on the (cargo) train right now. What are they going to do with them? Too many people leaving the jungle. The migrants will never stop.” Vargas told AFP outside a Mexican detention center in Ciudad Juarez, where a fire killed 40 migrants.
Experts also caution about the limits of these measures. “It is going to further violate the migrant process, which will not stop until there are conditions for it in the expelling countries,” Eduardo Gonzalez, an academic at Tecnológico de Monterrey, told AFP.
The situation can also be taken advantage of by “coyotes”, human traffickers who have turned illegal migration into a multimillion-dollar business.