Border Update: Humanitarian Parole Helps Some Cross into U.S


Migrants and asylum seekers wait for answers outside a U.S. port of entry in San Ysidro, Mexico. Photo courtesy of NPR.

Highlights:

  • Title 42 is still operating, which means the U.S government continues to violate international law by refusing to process new asylum applications

  • However, some asylum seekers in Mexico are being allowed to enter the U.S on humanitarian parole after being psychologically evaluated as a “vulnerable case”

  • Once in the U.S, they still have to sit for a “credible fear” interview, quarantine, and test negative for COVID-19


The federal government still has not rescinded Title 42, passed in March 2020 by the Trump Administration, which cited public health measures as a means for barring all new asylum applications, even as numbers of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border are the highest they've been in decades. Not allowing someone to seek asylum, and/or sending them back to a place where they will be in danger, is a violation of the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, to which the U.S. is a signatory member.


As people arrive at the border, they are being turned away, even though the only way to apply for asylum is to be physically present on U.S soil. There are currently around 2,000 migrants in El Chaparral camp, in Tijuana, Mexico, who are waiting to apply for asylum. But there’s no infrastructure there--either from the U.S. or Mexican authorities--to organize people or give them accurate information.


Remarkably, some local cross-border initiatives are able to help people cross into the U.S. on humanitarian parole if they are deemed a “vulnerable case.” Individuals who have a history of trauma or dealing with traumatic experiences in their home countries are being psychologically evaluated by volunteers from Psicólogos Sin Fronteras, Psychologists Without Borders, in coordination with Border Angels and Alliance SD.


A “vulnerable case” might include, but is not limited, to anyone who is a survivor or torture or assault, and families with young children. If a psychologist believes they qualify, they will help individuals fill out a psychological evaluation and an application for parole. So far, this process is being met with a good deal of success. Volunteers in migrant shelters and El Chaparral are witnessing many temporary residents being granted parole and escorted into the United States through this system.


Once parole is granted, the individual or family must wait for a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent to escort them through a port of entry, at which point they still sit for a “credible fear” interview, where they are asked to explain in depth their fear of persecution or torture in their home country (among other things). If the interviewer believes they qualify for asylum, then the individual or family is taken into custody. Currently, these individuals are being quarantined in San Diego hotels for two days as they wait for results from COVID-19 tests. If the test is negative, they are then finally flown to wherever their U.S. sponsor currently resides (they must have a sponsor--typically a family member or close friend--in order to be accepted on humanitarian parole).


In El Chaparral, there are currently only two psychologists for every 600 people. Conducting psychological evaluations and coordinating parole applications is a lengthy process. For asylum seekers, this means longer waiting time in dangerous areas under vulnerable conditions.


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