After a week by bus from Honduras, Isabel Osorio Medina arrived in northern Mexico with the hope that President Joe Biden would make it easier for people like him to enter the United States.
It appears the new president wants to help migrants, Osorio said as he prepared to check into a cheap hotel in downtown Tijuana before heading to the United States. help, but I don’t know for sure what is true and what is not.
The 63-year-old is among thousands who have come to the US-Mexico border in hopes of being able to seek asylum and travel to the United States now that former President Donald Trump is no longer in function.
While Biden took important steps in his first few weeks in office to reverse Trump’s sweeping immigration policies, his administration has failed to remove some of the biggest hurdles for asylum seekers.
In fact, it discourages people from coming to the country, in the hope that border officials for Trump and former President Barack Obama are overwhelmed by migrants, including many Central Americans with children.
Now is not the time to come, Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said at a recent briefing, and the vast majority of people will be turned down.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken adopted a similar tone on February 6, announcing official steps to end Trump-era agreements with Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala that required many asylum seekers to seek refuge in one of these countries instead of the United States.
To be clear, these actions don’t mean the U.S. border is open, Blinken said. As we commit to expanding legal avenues of protection and opportunity here and in the region, the United States is a country with borders and laws that must be enforced.
This message did not reach everyone.
More and more people arrived at an encampment in Matamoros, Mexico, a dangerous town just south of the Texas border, where hundreds of asylum seekers were waiting as part of Trump’s Stay in Mexico program.
It’s possible that even more will come after the Biden administration announced on Friday that it would slowly allow around 25,000 people to enter the United States as their cases are reviewed. The first wave is expected on February 19.
Walter Valenzuela, a 37-year-old Honduran, said he had been waiting in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, for months for a chance to seek asylum or risk illegal passage.
For years, asylum seekers who met the initial threshold of demonstrating a credible fear of persecution in their home country could generally stay in the United States until an immigration judge decides s ‘they are qualified for permanent residence, which can take years.
Trump administration officials believed that many asylum claims were fraudulent or lacking in merit, submitted by people simply seeking to stay in the U.S. But the problem is grim as tens of thousands flee the United States. violent gangs, natural disasters and political upheavals.
The Biden administration has signed several immigration decrees, including allowing more refugees to arrive and creating a task force to trace the parents of around 600 children who were separated under Trump and which still have not been reunited.
But it hasn’t ended a public health order Trump issued at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that allows U.S. customs and border protection to immediately deport almost everyone, including claimants. ‘asylum.
Psaki said the government always strives to develop a human and comprehensive process “for assessing people coming to the United States.
Asylum procedures at the border will not happen immediately, she said. Implementation will take time.
Alan Bersin, who held senior border security posts under the Clinton and Obama administrations, warned Biden was heading for a crisis if he released all asylum seekers in the United States in the short term .
Meanwhile, the pressure is building.
The number of people apprehended at the border has increased since January, although it is lower than in some previous periods. Authorities say many are arrested and fired multiple times.
To complicate matters, a law has gone into effect in Mexico that prohibits the detention of children in migrant detention centers, and the United States has stopped returning some families along parts of the border. CBP, which lacks the capacity to detain families due to COVID-19, has released dozens of people in the United States in recent weeks with instructions to appear in court later.
Authorities fear that as word of these posts spreads, more people will come. And asylum isn’t the only immigration issue creating headwinds for the Biden administration.
Texas and Arizona have both filed a lawsuit to end the moratorium on Biden’s 100-day deportation, which a judge has temporarily suspended. Immigration, customs and law enforcement officials complain about the rules proposed to focus on the illegal detention and return to the country of people who pose threats to national security or who have been convicted of more serious crimes.
Jon Feere, senior ICE adviser under Trump, said such measures were part of a larger scheme the Biden administration would come to regret.
When you send the message that you are not serious about immigration law enforcement, you may not be surprised when you see a massive influx of people that you have to deal with. he declares.
Raul Ortiz, deputy head of the border patrol, said last week that as a liaison with Biden’s transition team he found the staff very attentive to the issues. Some had experience of the influx of asylum seekers under Obama.
It was not uncharted waters, ”Ortiz said in an interview with the Border Patrol. “It wasn’t like we were starting from scratch.
The larger debate is lost for Osorio, who came to Tijuana because he had heard that Biden wanted to help people like him. He says he intended to seek asylum because of the dangers he faced as an environmental activist protesting against illegal logging in Honduras.
But since he cannot apply for asylum at the official San Diego border crossing, other migrants have told him about a place he may try to cross illegally. He said if he meets the border patrol, he will apply for asylum and see what happens.
They’ve already told us more or less how to do it, Osorio said. We will take a look.
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