Monday, March 20, 2023

Court ruling expands unequal treatment for asylum seekers

EAGLE PASS, Texas ( Associated Press) — As the sun sets over the Rio Grande, about 120 Cubans, Colombians and Venezuelans who sped through waist-deep waters went into Border Patrol vehicles, soon after their arrival in the United States. Will be released to pursue immigration matters. ,

Across the border in the Mexican city of Piedras Negras, Honduran families tied together in a part of the city with broken sidewalks, narrow streets and few people were unsure where to spend the night as the city’s only shelter was full.

The opposite fate reflects the dual nature of US border enforcement under pandemic rules, known as Title 42 and designated for the 1944 public health law. President Joe Biden wanted to end those rules on Monday, but a federal judge in Louisiana issued a nationwide injunction that sustains them.

The US government has expelled migrants more than 1.9 million times under Title 42, which does not give them the opportunity to seek asylum as permitted under US law and international treaty for the purposes of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

But Title 42 does not apply equally across nationalities. For example, Mexico has agreed to withdraw migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. For other nationalities, however, high costs, poor diplomatic relations and other considerations make it difficult for the US to take migrants to their home countries under Title 42. Instead, they are usually freed to seek asylum or other forms of legal status in the US. ,

At the Honduras bus station in Piedras Negras, the visiting Cubans ask for money, knowing that the Cubans will have no use for the pesos as they will go straight across the border. While Mexico agreed in April to expel some Cubans and Nicaraguans under Title 42, the vast majority have been released in the US.

“It was outside,” Javier Fuentes, 20, says of living in a rented house in Piedras Negras. On Sunday morning, he and two other Cuban men walked the Rio Grande and a paved road for about an hour until they found a Border Patrol vehicle at Eagle Pass, the Texas town of 25,000 people where migrants cross the river. A public golf course.

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Overnight rains raised the water to neck level for most adults, a possible explanation for the absence of groups in the dozens, even more than 100, who often flocked to the area for several days.

“Slow start to the morning,” said a Border Patrol agent as he greeted guard soldiers watching four Peruvians, including a 7-month-old baby, who died several days later with his parents as he met 17 migrants. Together they broke into a rented room in Piedras Negras.

As the water receded to waist level, about three dozen migrants gathered in a riverfront public park that also attracted local residents in Piedras Negras, which considers itself the birthplace of nachos. Massive Hondurans joined the crowd to pass on infants and young children. A Honduran woman was eight months pregnant in apparent pain.

Eagle Pass, a sprawling town of warehouses and decaying homes that has been overlooked by many major retailers, is one of the busiest in the Del Rio sector of the Border Patrol, with approximately 250 miles (400 km) of sparsely populated riverfront. is included. Last year, about 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, gathered in nearby Del Rio, which is not much larger than Eagle Pass. Grain farms are all about what separates the city from San Antonio, about a three-hour drive.

The relative ease of crossing – migrants walk across the river in a matter of minutes, often without paying a smuggler – and the perception that it is relatively safe on the Mexican side have made the remote area a major migration route.

Texas’s Rio Grande Valley has long been the busiest of the nine Border Patrol areas on the Mexican border, but Del Rio has slipped to close second this year. Yuma, Arizona, Another location, known for relative safety and ease of crossing, has moved up to the third busiest.

Del Rio and Yuma rank sixth and seventh in the number of agents in the nine regions, indicating how Border Patrol personnel are. The long-standing backward shift is the migration flow.

John Enfinson, president of the Del Rio sector chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, said other parts of the border are less patrolled than in Del Rio, which is trying to capture migrants but is more rugged and remote.

Anfinsen called the Del Rio sector “a happy medium” for migrants who want to balance the appeal of remote areas with security.

Cristian Salgado, who slept on the streets of Piedras Negras with his wife and 5-year-old son after fleeing Honduras, said the Mexican border town is “one of the few places where you can live more or less in peace.”

But his enthusiasm about the Biden administration’s plan to lift Title 42 on Monday evaporated with the judge’s ruling. “There is no hope now,” he said.

His pessimism may be a bit wrong. Honduras was intercepted about 16,000 times at the border in April, resulting in little more than expulsions under Title 42. The rest could seek refuge in America if they expressed a fear of returning home.

But the Cubans performed much better. They were intercepted more than 35,000 times in April, and only 451, or barely 1%, were processed under Title 42.

“Cubans come in on their own,” said Joel Gonzalez, 34, of Honduras, who tried to escort agents out for three days at Eagle Pass before being caught and expelled. Agents told him that US asylum was no longer available. Is.

Isis Pena, 45, turned down an offer from a fellow Honduran woman to cross the river. The woman called from San Antonio saying she was released without asking if she wanted to claim asylum. The woman now lives in New York.

Pea tried to cross herself the next day, an experience she did not want to repeat for fear of drowning. After nearly four hours of detention, an agent told him, “There is no asylum for Honduras.”


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