October 3, 2023

The US turned the page on pandemic-era immigration restrictions with relative calm at its border with Mexico as migrants adopted tough new rules aimed at discouraging illegal crossings and the promise of a new legal path to enter the country. looked forward to.

A full day after the rules, known as Title 42, were lifted, migrant and government officials on Friday still met President Joe Biden in hopes of stabilizing the southwest border region and reducing smugglers who charge migrants were assessing the effects of the switch on the new rules adopted by the U.S. administration. to get there.

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Migrants are now essentially barred from seeking asylum in the US if they don’t first apply online or seek protection in the countries they travel through.

More Context: Southern US border seen calm after midnight lifting of pandemic-era asylum restrictions

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Families who have been allowed in as their immigration cases progress will face curfews and GPS monitoring. And for those deported from the US, they may now be banned from entering the country for up to five years and face possible criminal prosecution.

Across the river from El Paso, Texas, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, many migrants look at their cellphones in hopes of getting a coveted appointment to gain admission. Many migrants in northern Mexico are resigned to waiting for an appointment rather than coming to the border without authorization.

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“I hope it’s a little better and appointments are streamlined a little more,” said 21-year-old Yeremy Depablos, a Venezuelan traveling with seven cousins ​​who have been waiting in Ciudad Juárez for a month Are. Fearing deportation, DiPablos did not want to cross illegally. “We have to do it the legal way.”

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The US Department of Homeland Security said it had not seen a significant increase in immigration.

But in southern Mexico, migrants including children still flocked to the railway in Huehuetoca on Friday, desperate to board freight trains headed north to the US.

Legal avenues touted by the Biden administration include a program that would allow 30,000 people a month from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter if they apply online with a financial sponsor and Enter through an airport.

About 100 processing centers are opening in Guatemala, Colombia and elsewhere, where migrants can apply to go to the US, Spain or Canada. Up to 1,000 can enter daily through land crossings with Mexico if they make an appointment on the app.

If it works, the system could fundamentally change how migrants arrive at the southern border.

But Biden, who is running for reelection, is facing criticism from migrant advocates, who say he is abandoning more humane methods, and from Republicans, who claim he is soft on border security. There are already two legal challenges looming over the new asylum restrictions.

Title 42 was introduced in March 2020 and allows border officials to turn back asylum seekers at the border on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. But with the official end of the national emergency, the restrictions have also come to an end.

While Title 42 prevented many people from seeking asylum, it did not have any legal consequences for removal under the new rules.

In El Paso on Friday, a few dozen migrants stayed in the streets outside the Sacred Heart Catholic Church and shelter, where some 2,000 migrants were camped as recently as Tuesday.

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The Reverend Daniel Mora said most migrants heeded flyers distributed by US immigration officials and offered a “last chance” for processing and leaving. El Paso Mayor Oscar Lesser said 1,800 migrants turned themselves in to Customs and Border Protection on Thursday.

Melissa Lopez, executive director of Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services in El Paso, said many migrants are willing to follow the legal path laid out by the federal government, but also face deportation and possible criminal penalties for those who cross the border illegally. Fear. ,

By the end of Title 42, border holding facilities in the US were already beyond capacity.

In Florida, a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump has temporarily halted the administration’s plan to release people at US Customs and Border Protection, saying it will comply, but calling it a “damaging decision that undermines migrant processing”. but will result in unsafe overcrowding” and detention facilities. A court date has been set to detail the decision.

Migrant-rights groups also accused the Biden administration that its new policy is no different from the one adopted by Trump – and has been rejected by the same court.

The Biden administration says its policy is different, arguing that it is not an outright ban but imposes a higher burden of proof on getting asylum and that it puts the ban alongside other newly opened legal avenues.

At the Chaparral port of entry in Tijuana on Friday, some migrants approached US officials after they could not access an appointment app. One of them, a Salvadoran man named Jairo, said he was on the run from death threats on his way back home.

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“We’re really scared,” said Jairo, who was traveling with his partner and their 3-year-old son and declined to share his last name. “We can’t stay in Mexico anymore and we can’t go back to Guatemala or El Salvador. If the US can’t take us, we hope they can direct us to another country that can .