Sunday, January 29, 2023

US: Migrants await end of asylum restrictions

RAYONSA, Mexico ( Associated Press) — Thousands of migrants packed shelters at the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday as Trump-era restrictions on asylum expired and new figures show fewer adults alone crossed the border illegally last month. Did it

Border Patrol agents recorded 143,903 apprehensions of adult migrants traveling alone along the border with Mexico in November, down 9% from 158,639 in October and their lowest level since August, according to court documents filed by the Justice Department .

Nicaraguans alone became the second largest nationality at the border among migrating adults, surpassing Cubans and only Mexicans.

The document, filed as part of the federal lawsuit process in Louisiana, offered no explanation for the decline, which came before enforcement of the public health rule known as Title 42 expires Wednesday. .

Since March 2020, the United States has denied asylum to migrants 2.5 million times on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Republican-governed states have asked a federal appeals court to keep Title 42 in effect. The decision can be taken at the last moment.

Border cities, especially El Paso in Texas, face a daily influx of migrants that the Biden administration hopes will increase if the ban on asylum is lifted.

In Tijuana, Mexico’s largest border city, there are an estimated 5,000 people in more than 30 shelters, Enrique Lucero, the city’s director of immigration affairs, said this week.

In Reynosa, Mexico, near McAllen, Texas, about 300 migrants—mostly families—crawl into Casa del Migrante, sleeping in bunk beds and even on the floor.

Rose, 32, from Haiti, has been at the shelter for three weeks with her daughter and 1-year-old son. Rose, who did not give her last name because she feared it could jeopardize her safety and efforts to apply for asylum, said she learned about possible changes in US policy on her trip. She said she was happy to wait a little longer for restrictions on Mexico that were imposed early in the pandemic and have been a cornerstone of US border surveillance to be lifted.

“We are very scared, because Haitians are being deported,” said Rose, who is worried that any mistake in trying to bring her family to the United States could send her back to Haiti.

In Reynosa, some 3,000 migrants live in tents set up on concrete slabs and rough gravel inside the walls of Senda de Vida 2, a shelter opened by an evangelical Christian pastor when the former reached maximum capacity. Flies are buzzing everywhere under the scorching sun even in the middle of December.

For many fleeing violence from Haiti, Venezuela, Central America and elsewhere, these refuges provide at least some protection from the cartels that control the course of the Rio Grande (or Rio Grande) and prey on migrants. .

In McAllen, a hundred migrants escaping asylum restrictions rested on mats on Thursday in a large room run by Catholic Charities where their families and friends live inside the United States.

Gloria, a 22-year-old Honduran woman who was 8 months pregnant, had taken a printout that read: “Please help me. I do not speak English” (Please help me. I do not speak English). Gloria also did not want her Her last name to be used for fear of safety. She expressed concern about being alone at the airport on her way to Florida, where she met a man.

Title 42, which is part of the Public Health Law of 1944, applies to all nationalities, but falls more heavily on those whom Mexico agrees to repatriate: Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans and, more recently, Venezuelans. Except Mexican.

Border Patrol agents apprehended 3,513 Venezuelan adults traveling alone in November compared to 14,697 the previous month, demonstrating the impact of Mexico’s decision on October 12 to deport migrants expelled from the South American country to the United States.

Also in November, there were 43,504 apprehensions of unaccompanied Mexicans at the border, up from 56,088 in October. Similarly, November recorded 27,369 Nicaraguan arrests compared to 16,497 in October, as well as 24,690 Cubans, up from 20,744 in October.

In a related development, a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, ruled that the Biden administration wrongfully ended a Trump-era policy that kept asylum seekers waiting in Mexico for a US immigration court hearing. The ruling did not have an immediate impact, but it could deal a long-term blow to the White House.

The “remain in Mexico” policy, after it was introduced in January 2019, was used to force some 70,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their US hearings. Administrative Road.

The Department of Homeland Security said it is evaluating its next steps. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who filed a lawsuit to uphold the “Remain in Mexico” policy, called the ruling a victory “for now”.

Kacsmaryk initially ordered the policy to be reinstated in 2021. The Biden administration complied, but did not widely implement the policy, and only a few thousand were returned to wait in Mexico.


Associated Press writers Elliot Spaggett in San Diego and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas contributed to this report.

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