By Alejandra Arredondo
El Paso, Texas, Dec 22 (EFE).- Among the surge in undocumented migrants seeking to enter the United States via Mexico and request asylum are hundreds of Nicaraguans and Cubans, the vast majority of whom have been unaffected by Title 42 – a US policy allowing the rapid expulsion of newly arrived foreigners to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Unlike migrants from Mexico and other countries of Central America, thus far they have been able to submit bids for asylum in the US without the risk of being deported.
According to figures from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, more than 29,000 Cubans were stopped in October at the US’s southern border.
More than 20,983 Nicaraguan migrants were encountered at the border that same month, the fourth-highest total for all nationalities and the largest number for citizens of that country in the past 12 months.
Because those two countries have not accepted deportation flights from the US (although Cuba recently agreed to do so) and Mexico has not agreed to take in Cuban or Nicaraguan migrants held in US custody, they have been effectively exempt from Title 42.
Rosa, 39, is part of the recent wave of Nicaraguan migrants, having left her homeland on Nov. 25 and crossed the Rio Grande into El Paso less than a week ago.
She was detained there by border agents, who took her and her two children to a detention facility that housed them for 48 hours.
“I left the country because I was more bankrupt every time; things are more expensive every day,” she said. Her 18-year-old son, David, told Efe he decided to leave Nicaragua to support her but also because he was being harassed by the government.
“They make young people go on strike or take part in events,” he said.
Nearby, Yaimaris, her husband Rolando and their seven-year-old daughter Luz wrapped themselves in Red Cross blankets.
They also had spent 48 hours in a detention center upon arrival in El Paso, having flown from Cuba to Nicaragua and then taken a bus to the US-Mexico border.
“The most difficult part was leaving Cuba,” Rolando said, adding that he is anxious to arrive in Miami and be able to provide a better future for his daughter.
Another Cuban, Francesco, told Efe a day after being released from a migrant-detention facility that the situation in Cuba “is worse every day.”
Over the past 12 months, more than 250,000 Cubans have been detained while crossing into the US from Mexico, the biggest migrant wave from the island to that North American country since the late 1990s.
While Cubans and Nicaraguans have taken advantage of their unique status and arrived in large numbers this year at the border, the expected end of Title 42 in the near future could lead to fresh surges in migrants from countries such as Guatemala and Honduras who have been deported en masse under that policy.
The fate of that public health order is now in the hands of the US Supreme Court, which this week temporarily blocked a ruling by a lower court requiring the lifting of that pandemic-era restriction.
Title 42 had been due to expire on Wednesday, but Chief Justice John Roberts granted a stay requested by 19 Republican-led states.
President Joe Biden’s administration, meanwhile, opposes the GOP’s efforts to keep the policy in place while litigation over the policy continues, although it also wants more time to prepare for a surge of asylum-seekers that may even eclipse the total for the 12 months ending Sept. 30.
In fiscal year 2022, the CBP apprehended a record total of more than 2.76 million migrants at the border. EFE