Migrants cross the US border in the last hours before Title 42 expires – KESQ

Associated Press

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) — Migrants rushed across the border into Mexico Thursday hoping to enter the United States in the final hours before pandemic-related asylum restrictions are lifted, a change many feared. it could make it difficult for them to stay.

With the midnight deadline approaching, migrants in Mexico remove their clothes before descending a steep embankment into the Rio Grande, clutching plastic bags filled with clothing. A man was holding a baby in an open suitcase over his head.

On the US side of the river, the migrants donned dry clothes and forced their way through barbed wire. Many immediately turned themselves in to authorities and awaited release while they pursued their cases in backlogged immigration courts, which takes years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been unveiling strict new measures to replace restrictions known as Title 42. The outgoing rules have allowed border officials since March 2020 to quickly return asylum seekers across the border in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The new policies crack down on illegal crossings while also establishing legal pathways for immigrants who apply online, find a sponsor and undergo background checks. If successful, the reforms could fundamentally alter the way migrants arrive at the US-Mexico border.

But that’s a big “if.” President Joe Biden has admitted that the border it will be chaotic for a while. Immigrant advocacy groups have threatened legal action. And migrants fleeing poverty, gangs and persecution in their home countries remain desperate to reach American soil at all costs.

Guillermo Contreras from Venezuela said Title 42 was good for people of his shattered South American country. He heard that many immigrants before him were released into the United States.

“What we understand is that they won’t let anyone else in,” said Contreras’s friend Pablo, who declined to give his last name because he planned to cross the border illegally. “That is the reason for our urgency to cross the border today.”

While Title 42 it prevented many from seeking asylum, had no legal consequences, and encouraged repeat attempts. After Thursday, the migrants face a five-year ban from entering the US and possible criminal prosecution.

Detention facilities along the border were well over capacity, and Border Patrol agents on Wednesday were told to begin releasing some migrants with instructions to report to a US immigration office. within 60 days, according to a US official. The official was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and provided information to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Agents were also told to begin releases in any area where the holding facility was at 125% capacity or the average holding time exceeded 60 hours. They were also instructed to begin releases if 7,000 migrants were apprehended across the entire border in one day.

Border Patrol apprehended about 10,000 migrants on Tuesday, one of the busiest days in its history, according to a second US official who provided information to the AP on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

That’s nearly double the daily average of about 5,200 in March, the latest publicly available data, and close to the 11,000 that US officials have forecast as the upper limit of the increase they anticipate after Title 42.

More than 27,000 people were in the custody of the US Customs and Border Protection, the official said.

On Thursday, about 400 migrants huddled amid strong winds whipping up sand on the banks of the Rio Grande River east of El Paso as groups of Texas National Guard soldiers built barbed-wire barriers.

A couple from Colombia approached the wire asking if they could build a fire because a 10-year-old boy was shivering in the desert cold. Most of the migrants huddled under thin blankets.

Texas National Guard Maj. Sean Storrud said his troops have explained to migrants the consequences of crossing illegally.

“Migrants don’t really know what’s going to happen,” Storrud said.

On Wednesday, homeland security announced a rule to make it extremely difficult for anyone traveling through another country, such as Mexico, to qualify for asylum. It also introduced GPS-tracked curfews for families released into the US prior to initial asylum evaluations.

The administration considered detaining families until they pass initial asylum evaluations, but opted for family curfews, which will run from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and begin soon in Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, and Newark, New Jersey, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not intended to be public.

Families who do not show up for selection interviews will be picked up by immigration authorities and deported.

At the same time, the administration has introduced expansive new legal avenues in the US.

Up to 30,000 people per month from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela can enter if they apply online with a financial sponsor and enter through an airport. Processing centers are opening in Guatemala, Colombia and elsewhere. Up to 1,000 can enter daily via land crossings with Mexico if they get an appointment. in an online application.

In San Diego, more than 100 migrants, many of them Colombian families, slept under plastic sheeting between two border walls, guarded by Border Patrol agents who had nowhere to take them for processing.

Albino León, 51, said the end of Title 42 prompted the family to take the trip.

“With the changes they are making to the laws, it is now or never,” said León, who flew to Mexico from Colombia and passed a first border wall to reach US soil.

Miguel Meza, director of migrant programs for Catholic Relief Services, which runs 26 migrant shelters in Mexico, estimates that there are some 55,000 migrants in border cities facing the United States. More arrive daily from the south, as well as migrants expelled by the United States back to Mexico.

Migrants have tense some US cities During the past year.

Elías Guerra, 20, came to Denver last week after hearing that it was a welcoming place where he could get a free bus ticket to his final destination. After four nights in a church shelter, the city provided a $58 ticket to New York. He left Wednesday night.

“Here it is comfortable, safe, there is food, there is shelter, there are bathrooms,” Guerra said as she waited with other migrants in a parking lot where the city processed new arrivals.


Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Rebecca Santana in Washington; Christopher Sherman in Mexico City; Gerardo Carrillo in Matamoros, Mexico; María Verza in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; Anita Snow in Phoenix; Nick Riccardi in Denver; Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Giovanna Dell’Orto in El Paso; and Elliot Spagat in Tijuana, Mexico, contributed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *