The tightening of regulations at the US-Mexico border forces many to choose legal routes to migrate, while the Mexican government prepares to receive those who are rejected by Washington.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador visits a border point in the city of Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas, neighboring Brownsville, Texas, on Saturday.
The left-wing president responded briefly to reporters who questioned him about the migrant crisis, saying, “Now we are beginning to see that (…) you 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, as the so-called Title 42 expired on Friday after Washington tightened measures against illegal immigration, a law adopted in 2020 The mechanism was reportedly meant to prevent Covid-19.
Although Title 42 was invoked to execute the 2.8 million removals in Mexico of immigrants who 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 may be barred from applying for asylum afterwards.
If they are arrested, they will also be banned from re-entering for five years and may 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.
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 Chiapas state 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”, said Kevin López, the presidential secretary for communications. announced on Friday.
There are also family reunification programs and humanitarian permits for Venezuelans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Cubans as 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 sauce, José Manuel Tovar from Venezuela considers himself lucky because after four months he got an appointment. “I cried, my family, all my colleagues were crying with joy,” he told AFP.
His enthusiasm contrasts with the uneasiness of Venezuela’s Randy Vargas, who warns that sanctions will not stop migration.
“We are talking about thousands of Venezuelans at the border, thousands coming by (cargo) train right now. What are they going to do with them? Many are coming out in the woods. Vargas told AFP outside a Mexican detention center in Ciudad Juarez where a fire killed 40 migrants on March 27.
Experts also caution about the limits of these measures. “It is going to further violate the migration 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 may continue to be taken advantage of by “coyotes”, human traffickers who have turned illegal immigration into a multimillion-dollar business.