Biden’s new order leaves migrants at the border in limbo over their asylum fate

Fabiola Yépez, a 20-year-old mother from Venezuela, was sheltering under a bridge in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, with her toddler son when she first learned about the President’s new executive order. Biden limits asylum seekers.

Despite having witnessed American soldiers on the other side of the border firing non-lethal bullets at migrants the day before, she still planned to attempt to cross into the United States on Wednesday, just hours after the order effective.

“Maybe it’s not what they’re saying and they won’t refuse us,” Ms. Yépez said. “I was very scared, especially with my baby in my arms.”

In the context of the new order, migrants scattered along the US-Mexico border are trying to figure out how they will be affected by the measure, the most restrictive border policy issued by Mr. Biden. The directive allows the United States to temporarily close the border to asylum seekers when the seven-day average of illegal border crossings reaches 2,500.

At some locations along the border on Wednesday, there appeared to be confusion over whether the order was technically in effect and whether border agents should enforce it. Shelter operators and humanitarian workers in Mexico are also trying to make sense of it.

Juan Fierro García, director of El Buen Samaritano (Good Samaritan), a shelter for migrants in Ciudad Juárez, just across the border from El Paso, said that the new policy could cause more tensions to his operations and other local shelters if large numbers of migrants are turned away.

He noted that there are currently relatively few migrants in the city, reflecting a sharp decline since the beginning of the year – as a result of increased Mexican enforcement measures Transporting people from the border to other regions of the country.

Fierro García said the people residing at his shelter are largely families who have been waiting for months to be interviewed by U.S. immigration officials through CBP One, an application used to schedule interviews with U.S. immigration officials. schedule asylum appointments. But even though the shelter holds only 55 people in a space meant for 280, Fierro García said food is in short supply.

“We do not have the necessary supplies at this time to accommodate additional people,” he said.

Some people were still entering the United States on Wednesday morning, reflecting limited exceptions to the new restrictions, including for unaccompanied minors, victims of human trafficking and others. CBP One app users. It is also unclear in some places whether executive action will be implemented immediately.

In Mexicali, across the border from Calexico, California, more than a dozen migrants, apparently from Haiti and with appointments with CBP One, were allowed into the United States on Wednesday morning. However, others were denied entry.

Georgina Esquivel, 40, a food seller from Morelos state in Mexico, said she had never heard of Mr. Biden’s order. Wishing to apply for asylum in the United States without an appointment with CBP One, Ms. Esquivel said she and her 10-year-old daughter Maria were turned away by US Customs and Border Protection officials.

“I’ll stay here,” Ms. Esquivel said. “I don’t even know what to do anymore. I don’t want to go back to Morelos and I don’t want to stay in Mexicali either.”

At an outdoor detention site, located between the two walls separating the United States and Mexico in San Diego’s Tijuana River Valley, dozens of migrants who crossed the border on Wednesday gathered and waited for the Border Patrol. world came to welcome them. handle.

“I can say things are going well,” said Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee, a nonprofit that assists migrants and provides them with food and water. out normally. The only change, he said, was that there seemed to be fewer passersby on Wednesday than in previous days.

In El Paso, shelter operators said it may be too early to see concrete effects from the order.

“We’re going to have to give it a chance to grow,” said Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House, a nonprofit shelter system. “You’re talking about an order that will have logistical implementation aspects to it. So we’ll have to give them a chance to see how it’s actually done.”

Mr. Garcia also emphasized that the number of migrants at the border waiting to cross the border is extremely low compared to past years, making it unlikely that this order will have a major impact.

Mexican immigration experts say Mr. Biden’s executive order is worrying and could put asylum seekers in danger.

“I see echoes of mechanisms that have been tested in the past,” said Rafael Velásquez García, director of Mexico’s International Rescue Committee, one of the world’s leading refugee aid organizations. He noted that previous actions, such as Title 42, have not reduced asylum demand, improved Mexico’s ability to absorb migrants, or allocated resources to increase opportunities in Mexico.

“I don’t see the purpose of it,” he added. “It simply doesn’t work.”

Analysts say that in any case, Mexico will bear the brunt of the measure. Immigration authorities will likely have to deal with people being sent back to the border through detention and take them to distant states in an effort to wear them down,” said Eunice Rendón, coordinator of the Migrant Agenda, a coalition of Mexican advocacy groups.

“The flow will not be safe and orderly,” Ms. Rendón said. “It’s the opposite of what you want about migration.”

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador denied Wednesday that the executive action would cause problems for Mexican officials, saying his administration is helping the United States reach agreements with other countries to direct deportations. immigrant. It was unclear which countries he was referring to or how this would happen.

Some migrants trying to cross the border into the United States in recent days have been surprised at their luck.

José Luis Posada, 23, from El Salvador said he crossed into Tijuana on Monday by climbing over the border wall. He was released Wednesday by Border Patrol agents at a transit stop in San Diego.

“It was a miracle,” Mr. Posada said of his timing. By Wednesday, he learned about Mr. Biden’s new executive order.

“God knows what he was doing, and here we are,” he said.

Aline Corpus Contributing reports from Mexicali, Mexico, Jonathan Wolfe from San Diego and Reyes Mata III from El Paso.


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