Today we bring you our most recent edition of the Border Update series. Some highlights:
The Biden Administration is producing thousands of radio and social media ads in local languages to convince residents of Central American countries to stay home
Adults arriving at the border are being immediately turned away and sent back to Mexico without being processed
Unaccompanied minors are being temporarily housed in convention centers, churches, and other public facilities north of the border
Those previously enrolled in Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) are being slowly processed and released into the U.S. temporarily
As migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras continue the trek through Mexico to the U.S Border in record numbers, the Biden administration is putting out a clear message: Don’t come. In an official statement from February, White House officials announced that, “If you seek entry into the US and do not have an active MPP case, you will be immediately expelled and will not be permitted to remain in the United States.”
Additionally, officials are now working with consulates across Latin America to produce radio and social media ads in local languages, encouraging migrants not to make the dangerous journey and risk imminent deportation.
Meanwhile, for those already at the border, things are not looking up. The Biden Administration appears to be enforcing the same expulsion policies (illegal under humanitarian law) as the previous administration: Title 42 was passed last year as a supposed pandemic-prevention measure. The act allowed border police to expel anyone who crossed the border without processing them for asylum. This is a serious violation of U.S asylum seeker procedures, which dictate that asylum seekers must be physically present in the U.S before they can apply for asylum.
"For those without legal cases already underway in the US, Biden is continuing to use Title 42 while the pandemic lingers. Many crossing the border now are not even being officially processed into a border patrol or a Department of Health and Human Services facility, nor being turned over to family in the states to await a date with immigration court. They are just expelled into Mexico."
Asylum seekers who were already enrolled in the MPP since 2019 are slowly having their claims processed. According to Daniel Ruiz, Director of the Borderline Crisis Center, only 25-30 asylum seekers are being allowed to enter into the U.S each day; these are migrants who had previously been enrolled under MPP, are unaccompanied minors, or who already have legal counsel. Yet there are still thousands of individuals waiting to be processed so that they can be reunited with family and sponsors in the United States while they await legal hearings.
Taking a top-down approach, Vice President Harris has been tasked with tackling the migrant crisis diplomatically. Last week she reportedly had a virtual conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei in which they attempted to address some of the root issues causing massive migration, including economic devastation and threats from organized crime.
Unaccompanied minors already in the U.S. are being temporarily housed by the thousands in public spaces. Per the Biden Administration's pledge not to deport unaccompanied minors, U.S. border towns are now mobilizing to safely house unaccompanied minors while border agents work to connect them with family members already in the U.S. The San Diego Convention Center last week was transformed into a temporary shelter for these children ages 5 - 17 and is now nearing the maximum capacity of 1,450 beds.,
Shelters along the border are doing their best to help house and protect migrants temporarily. But shelter leaders are also overwhelmed with the number of people arriving daily. According to one shelter director in Tijuana, Mexico, many newly arrived asylum seekers who previously believed the border was open are now receiving conflicting information upon arriving at the border. Afraid of missing their opportunity to cross into the United States, asylum seekers are reluctant to move into the safety of temporary shelters in Mexico and prefer to wait along the border in tents by the ports of entry. Sleeping outdoors overnight leaves them vulnerable and greatly increases their risk of exploitation, theft, and kidnapping.
Under the current procedures for new arrivals, there are no other options but to wait in Mexico or return to Central America.
To learn more about our work with migrant shelters in Tijuana, please visit our website: https://www.onedigitalworld.net/about