A Mexico government official fears there will be chaos at the U.S. border unless President Biden’s administration comes up with a clear plan on how to handle the onrush of nearly 140,000 migrants seeking asylum once Title 42 is lifted next month.
As many as 4,000 migrants are currently staying at shelters in the border town of Tijuana while about 1,500 are housed in shelters in Mexicali as the clock ticks down toward May 23 – the date when the controversial policy imposed by former President Donald Trump is lifted.
Tens of thousands of additional migrants are in Chiapas near Mexico’s southern border city awaiting humanitarian visas from the country.
Enrique Lucero, director of the Direction of Attention to Migrants of the Municipality of Tijuana, told DailyMail.com that the Biden administration’s plan to suspend the measure raises many unknown variables on both sides of the border.
‘We hope that the United States is very clear about how it will receive all those asylum applications once Title 42 is eliminated because it is not clear whether they will do it in person at the border or if they will do it online,’ Lucero said.
‘If they do it in person, there will be chaos at the border because everyone will want leave the shelters and arrive at the border and stand in line. So that’s going to create chaos for them and us.’
Aerial view of an improvised camp of Ukrainians seeking asylum on the Mexican side of the San Ysidro Crossing port in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 2
Temporary agricultural workers with H-2A work visas wait in line to cross the San Ysidro Port of Entry on their way to seasonal jobs in the United States on March 22
More than 1.6 million migrants – mostly single adults – have been expelled from the United States since March 2020, when Trump enacted Title 42.
The measure, which dates to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health law instituted in 1944, provides U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s U.S. Border Patrol agents the authority to turn back migrants without allowing them the opportunity to apply for asylum because they were deemed a threat to spread COVID-19 in the country.
Dr. Moreno Mena, who is the director of the Coalition for the Defense of Migrants, told DailyMail.com that more than 80 percent of the migrants are Central Americans holding on to the expectations the Biden administration, which has shown an openness to asylum seekers, will consider them for admission into America.
‘The hope for Central Americans is still latent despite all the changes that have come, all the restrictions,’ he said. ‘Well, the hope for them is still latent and also as it is difficult for them to return to their place of origin.’
Migrants and border activists marched along a pedestrian bridge to arrive at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on March 21 protest against the Title 42 policy that was put into place by the former administration of President Donald Trump. Mexican officials and activists says about 5,500 migrants, mostly Central Americans, will seek asylum from the administration of President Joe Biden when the measure is lifted May 23
Haitian migrants and border activists assist a press conference held in protest of the Title 42 in Tijuana, Mexico, on March 21
Enrique Lucero, director of the Direction of Attention to Migrants of the Municipality of Tijuana, told DailyMail.com that the Biden administration’s plan to suspend Title 42 raises many unknown variables on both sides of the border because the U.S. government hasn’t revealed a plan on how it will handle asylum petitions
Mena said that about 400 people are being returned daily to the Tijuana area under Title 42 for crossing the border without legal documentation.
He doesn’t expect the 2,000 migrants who are set to form a caravan in Honduras and depart for the U.S. to do because Title 42 is about to come to an end nor does he believe that the 130,000 plus individuals waiting for the Mexican government to approve their humanitarian visas will bolt from southern Mexico to the country’s border with the U.S. after May 23.
‘This has been constant. Every year they form a caravan,’ Mena said, recalling smaller caravans of about 300 people who would make it to the Tijuana region before about a fifth of them were granted entry to the U.S. ‘Regardless of the program (law) there is, they are formed anyway. The problem is that they arrive and I see more and more (impossible) that these caravans will reach here.’
Russian asylum seekers Nastya (left) and Artem (right) gather with their son Samuil outside the San Ysidro Port of Entry after not being permitted to cross into the United States to seek asylum on March 22
Children play on Saturday at the Movimiento Juventud 2000 shelter where refugee migrants from Central and South American countries, including Honduras and Haiti seeking asylum in the United States, are currently staying
Father Pat Murphy, who operates the Casa Migrante de Tijuana shelter, sees the elimination of Title 42 as a positive because migrants will finally have the chance to file their asylum petitions but the drawback to it is that many will be rejected, especially at a time when the Biden administration is welcoming 100,000 refugees from Ukraine who have been displaced by the Russian invasion.
‘Just imagine if Ukrainians are coming from an African country,’ Father Murphy said. ‘They would be helping them so much? I don’t think so. … In the long run, the U.S. knows most of these people will go back to their home town.”
Said Mena: ‘They are giving them a very privileged treatment. The United States has even sent emissaries here to this side of the border to facilitate the passage to the United States and then organizations from the United States, NGOs, have crossed over to the Mexican side and are giving them support. Some of those organizations are supported by the US government. We can say that they are a privileged group.’