Migrants rush across US border in final hours before Title 42 expires

MATAMOROS: Migrants rushed across the Mexican border on Thursday, rushing to enter the United States before pandemic-related asylum restrictions are lifted in a change that threatens to put historic pressure on the asylum system. the country’s beleaguered immigration.
The Biden administration suffered a potentially serious legal setback Thursday night when a federal judge temporarily blocked its bid to free migrants more quickly when border patrol the waiting stations are full.
The imminent end of the so-called rules Title 42 sparked fears among migrants that the changes would make it harder for them to stay in the United States
With a late-night deadline looming, misinformation and confusion rocked migrants as they paced the border at the Rio Grande, often unsure of where to go or what to do next.
In Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, throngs of migrants — some clutching young children — waded through springtime river currents, pushed through thickets to confront a fortified border with barbed wire. Other migrants have settled in shelters in northern Mexico, determined to secure an asylum appointment that can take months to schedule online.
Many migrants were keenly aware of impending policy changes aimed at ending illegal crossings and encouraging asylum seekers to apply online and consider alternative destinations, including Canada or Spain.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” said Jhoan Daniel Barrios, a former Venezuelan military police officer as he paced with two friends along the border in Ciudad Juárez, opposite from El Paso, Texas, looking for a chance. seek refuge in the United States
“We have no more money, we have no food, we have no place to stay, the cartel is after us,” said Barrios, whose wife was detained in the United States. “What are we going to do, wait for them to kill us?”
Last week Barrios and his friends entered the United States and were deported. They had little hope of a different result on Thursday.
On the US side of the river, many surrendered immediately to authorities and hoped to be freed while pursuing their cases in backlogged immigration courts, which takes years.
It was unclear how many migrants were on the move or how long the surge might last. On Thursday evening, the flow appeared to be slowing in some places, but it was unclear why, or whether crossings would increase again after coronavirus restrictions expire.
A US official reported that Border Patrol arrested some 10,000 migrants on Tuesday – nearly double the level in March and slightly below the 11,000 figure that authorities say is the upper limit of what they expect after the end of title 42.
More than 27,000 people were in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection, the official said.
“Our buses are full. Our planes are full,” said Pedro Cardenas, city commissioner for Brownsville, Texas, just north of Matamoros, as recent arrivals headed to locations across the United States.
President Joe Biden’s administration has unveiled tough new measures to replace Title 42, which since March 2020 allows border officials to quickly return asylum seekers across the border to prevent the spread of Covid -19.

Migrants cross the Rio Grande as they attempt to enter the United States. (Photo by JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

The new policies crack down on illegal crossings while establishing legal avenues for migrants to apply online, seek a sponsor and undergo background checks. If successful, the reforms could fundamentally change the way migrants arrive at the US-Mexico border.
But it will take time to see the results. Biden conceded the border will be chaotic for a while. Immigrant advocacy groups have threatened legal action. And migrants fleeing poverty, gangs and persecution in their home countries are still desperate to reach American soil at all costs.
Many migrants were keenly aware of the impending political changes as they sought an opportunity on Thursday to surrender to US immigration authorities before the 11:59 a.m. EDT deadline.
Although Title 42 has prevented many people from seeking asylum, it has had no legal consequences, encouraging repeated attempts. After Thursday, migrants face being banned from entering the United States for five years and possible criminal prosecution.
Detention facilities along the border were well beyond capacity, and Border Patrol agents were told to begin releasing some migrants with instructions to report to a U.S. immigration office within 60 days, according to a US official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue and provided information to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Officers were also told to begin releases in any area where detention facilities were at 125% capacity or where the average length of detention exceeded 60 hours. Additionally, releases could begin if 7,000 migrants were taken into custody across the entire border in one day.
Late Thursday, a federal judge approved a request by the state of Florida to temporarily block releases, which the state said was materially identical to another administration policy previously overturned by a federal court. That policy directed the Biden administration to end expedited releases for migrants who illegally enter the United States from Mexico.
The administration had argued in the new case that blocking releases would restrict the government’s ability to manage the border at a time when a dramatic increase in arrivals is expected, which could overwhelm border facilities.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had previously warned of more crowded border patrol facilities ahead.
“I cannot overstate the strain on our staff and facilities,” he told reporters on Thursday.
He said the vast majority of migrants would be placed in an “expedited removal” process and deported quickly if they did not meet the requirements to stay in the United States. “We are confident in the legality of our actions,” he said.
Even as migrants rushed to reach US soil before the rules expired, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the smugglers were sending a different message. He noted an increase in the number of smugglers at his country’s southern border offering to take migrants to the United States and telling them the border was open from Thursday.
On Wednesday, Homeland Security announced a rule making it extremely difficult for anyone traveling through another country, such as Mexico, or who has not applied online, to qualify for asylum. It also introduced curfews with GPS tracking for families released to the United States ahead of the first asylum checks.
The administration says it is strengthening the removal of migrants deemed unqualified to stay in the United States on flights like those that brought nearly 400 migrants from the United States back to Guatemala on Thursday.
Among them was Sheidi Mazariegos, 26, who arrived with her 4-year-old son just eight days after being detained near Brownsville.
“I heard on the news there was an opportunity to get in, I heard it on the radio, but it was a lie,” she said. Smugglers took her to Matamoros and put the two on a raft. They were quickly apprehended by Border Patrol agents.
Mazariegos said she made the trip because she was poor and hoped to reunite with her sisters living in the United States.
At the same time, the administration introduced expansive new legal avenues in the United States
Up to 30,000 people per month from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela can enter if they apply online with a financial sponsor and enter through an airport. Treatment centers are opening in Guatemala, Colombia and elsewhere. Up to 1,000 people can enter overland daily with Mexico if they get an appointment on an online application.
At shelters in northern Mexico, many migrants chose not to rush to the border and waited for existing asylum appointments or the hope of booking one online.
At the Ágape Misión Mundial shelter in Tijuana, hundreds of migrants bided their time. Daisy Bucia, 37, and her 15-year-old daughter arrived at the shelter more than three months ago from the Mexican state of Michoacán – fleeing death threats – and have an asylum appointment on Saturday in California.
Bucia read on social media that the pandemic-era restrictions end at the US-Mexico border, but preferred to cross for sure later.
“What people want more than anything is to confuse you,” Bucia said.


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