Migrants frustration at US-Mexico border as COVID restrictions remain


© Reuters. A migrant asylum seeker tries to cross the Rio Bravo River to seek asylum in El Paso, Texas while the Texas State Troopers Police and members of the Texas National Guard stand guard on the banks of the Rio Bravo River. , the border between the United States


By Jose Luis Gonzalez and Ted Hesson

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Vladimir Castellanos learns that COVID-19 restrictions preventing him and other migrants from applying for asylum at the US border with Mexico may not end this week , he said he felt cheated.

Castellanos and his brother are Venezuelan, and they were among the dozens of migrants who gathered on both sides of the Rio Grande on Monday night in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, with several peaks. A small fire is lit to keep warm when the temperature drops to freezing.

They went there in anticipation that COVID-19 restrictions, known as Title 42, would be lifted on Wednesday by order of a US court. Title 42 allows U.S. authorities to quickly deport people who migrated to Mexico and other countries without the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States.

But in a last-minute move, the US Supreme Court on Monday allowed Title 42 to be temporarily upheld while a legal challenge by the Republican state attorney general seeks an extension. measures are decided.

The administration of President Joe Biden on Tuesday asked the court for permission to end the asylum restrictions. But citing the holiday season and logistical concerns prompted by Monday’s order, it asked the court to uphold the policy until after December 27.

“I took it as a joke, gave us hope and then, like a child, tricked us and told us they would postpone,” Castellanos said, adding that it was unfair. equal to when immigrants from other countries can enter the United States. while Venezuelans are banned.

Under Title 42, the United States can usually only deport migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela to Mexico. For example, Mexico will not accept Nicaraguans or migrants from certain South American countries, who are normally allowed into the United States to pursue their immigration cases.

Since Biden took office in January 2021, about half of the record 4 million migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border have been deported under Title 42 while the other half were allowed into the country. this.


The increase in the number of people crossing the border has overwhelmed some border communities. The city of El Paso, Texas, declared a state of emergency over the weekend as hundreds of migrants took to the streets.

The migrants interviewed by Reuters are a handful of the estimated tens of thousands of people waiting on the Mexican side of the border for a chance to cross.

Early Tuesday morning, dozens of Texas National Guard soldiers in camouflage uniforms and helmets showed up at the border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso in armored vehicles. Soldiers, part of a larger deployment force of 400 personnel, strung long uncoiled concertina ropes to create a barrier along the river.

Title 42 was originally issued in March 2020 under former Republican President Donald Trump at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration of Biden, a Democrat, left it in place for more than a year and expanded it in October to include Venezuelans deported to Mexico while allowing up to 24,000 Venezuelans into the United States. by air if they apply from abroad.

However, the Biden administration said it wanted Title 42 to end after US health authorities said in April that the order was no longer needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A federal judge ruled in November that Title 42 was illegal and ordered it lifted on December 21, siding with migrants seeking asylum who sued the government over the policy. .

But a group of 19 states with the Republican attorney general have posed a legal challenge to keep Title 42 in place by seeking to interfere in the case. The US Supreme Court on Monday said the restrictions could be upheld temporarily to give the parties in the case time to respond to Republican requests.

The Biden administration on Tuesday said it was planning to “increase resources” to the border and use existing regulatory agencies “to implement new policies in response to possible temporary disruptions.” occurs whenever Title 42 commands end.”

The Supreme Court will now decide whether to put the policy on hold while the states’ legal challenge unfolds.

Some Venezuelans on the Mexican side of the border still hold out hope for a change.

“I can’t give up so easily,” said 26-year-old Venezuelan immigrant Alexis Farfan, who has been staying at an LGBTQI+ shelter in Tijuana since he was deported from the US earlier this month. “I trust in God that I will make it to the other side.”

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