Saturday, April 1, 2023

Waiting lists to apply for asylum in the US cause frustration

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico ( Associated Press) – The murky waiting lists at the Mexican border for a chance of asylum in the United States continue under the administration of Joe Biden, causing many immigrants to drop their arms and cross illegally or be forced to spend months in border cities. waiting for news.

The announcement in late April that the United States was preparing to end asylum restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic sparked a new wave of arrivals of people determined to seek asylum. In Tijuana, an Internet order registry managed by the organization Al Otro Lado reached 50,000 registrations. In Piedras Negras, a center that provides services to migrants received 2,000 requests before it stopped accepting requests.

Waiting lists have been used extensively in the Trump administration to deal with an increase in the number of migrants from Mexico and Central America, often in large caravans, starting in 2018. Circumstances have changed now, but the process is still confusing. Migrants often do not know where to register or if lists actually exist.

Chaotic new episodes emerged as a wave of crossovers became a hot potato for Biden, accused by Republicans of not doing enough to stop them. In his meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Washington on Tuesday, Biden said the challenges ahead were made clear by the death of 53 migrants in a truck that was abandoned in San Antonio in sweltering heat.

Customs and Border Protection began receiving 70 asylum applications a day in San Diego in late April, half of them selected by Al Otro Lado, which prioritizes those who have been waiting the longest, and the other half by Border. Shelters for Tijuana migrants.

The Biden administration says it prioritizes the “most vulnerable,” a term that includes LGBTQ migrants and those in poor health or facing imminent physical danger in Mexico. The selection criteria, however, are ambiguous and a mystery to many.

Nongovernmental organizations play a “key role” in screening migrants and communicating with US authorities, according to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus.

“Is it a perfect system? It certainly isn’t. But those relationships have been a very important part of that equation,” Magnus said in a recent interview.

When US officials told a small shelter in Ciudad Acuña that they needed 26 families at the Del Río (Texas) intersection, word got around that Magaly Pérez, director of the San Antonio Community Center, was managing a list, which was not true.

“The next day I had 100 people at the door,” Pérez said. “One day later, 300. Control was lost.”

Makeshift, often dubious, arrangements emerged under the Trump administration. In Ciudad Juárez, across from El Paso, Texas, a shelter registered asylum seekers by writing a number on their arms in black ink. After receiving much criticism, he began handing out numbered plastic bracelets to wear on the wrist, some of which were donated or sold.

In San Luis del Río Colorado, near Yuma (Arizona), a migrant who managed a list chose a successor when his number was called. In Piedras Negras, the municipality appointed a restaurant owner to oversee another list.

The Biden administration has maintained Trump’s policy of denying migrants the ability to seek asylum to stop the spread of COVID-19. A federal judge ruled that the policy, known as Title 42, could be kept beyond May 23, when it was due to expire.

The United States allows some exceptions but applies the rules unevenly depending on nationality, with single adults and families from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador the hardest hit.

The United States accepted an average of 423 migrants a day at official passages in May, 308 in March and 418 in February, according to court documents. The April average of 1,614 was inflated by the arrival of Ukrainians.

Migrants selected from Al Otro Lado’s list usually registered a year ago, according to Soraya Vázquez, deputy director of the group’s Tijuana office. The organization also remotely enrolls migrants from Piedras Negras and other border towns.

A study by the University of Texas Strauss Center found 27,135 names on waiting lists in eight Mexican border cities in May, before Al Otro Lado’s list reached 50,000 in late June.

A more orderly system will be vital if the Title 42 program expires. US authorities are studying the possibility of creating a digital platform for migrant registration.

In Piedras Negras, Isis Peña, a 45-year-old Honduran woman, signed up for a waiting list at Casa del Migrante on April 29. When he showed up for an interview five days later, he was told that asylum applications were no longer being accepted.

“We wanted someone to give us some hope,” said Peña, who later crossed the border illegally with her 19- and 20-year-old sons via Eagle Pass and was removed based on title 42.

Peña, whose family is homeless, clings to any baseless rumors that the Biden administration is about to reopen the border.

“Information is very complicated. Access systems are very complicated,” said Edgar Rodríguez, legal advisor at Casa del Migrante.

The shortage of shelters means that the approximately 300 migrants, most of them Hondurans, who line up in front of the shelter six days a week for breakfast, sleep outdoors.

As a group of women waited for food to be served in June, one of them squealed with delight and held up a message she had received from a lawyer in Al Otro Lado. “Congratulations! They have approved your request for humanitarian parole,” the message read.

It included instructions to report to the Eagle Pass crossing the next day at five in the morning.

Kenia Cárcamo, who was expelled after crossing Eagle Pass, said she had never heard of this list.

“It’s a lucky wheel,” he said.

Joan Leiva, a gay man who says he escaped persecution in Honduras, joined Al Otro Lado in May and slept in a park in Ciudad Acuña with other immigrants until they were expelled by the police.

“We are adrift,” said Leiva, 31. “We don’t know where to look for information. Nobody tells us anything.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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