By Guadalupe Peñuelas
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb 9 (efe-epa)- The flow of migrants in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and their attempts to illegally cross the frontier into the United States have increased in the last few weeks since the inauguration of Joe Biden and given that immediate return policies are still in effect for illegal migrants entering the US, local migrant shelters are practically full.
As part of this phenomenon, last Friday at least 47 migrants from different countries crossed the Rio Grande and then turned themselves in to the US Border Patrol while dozens more gave up on their attempt – at least temporarily – when they were accosted by the Mexican National Guard.
Caridad is in this situation after leaving Honduras with her two small daughters and deciding to cross the border to ask Biden’s administration for asylum.
She wants to get her daughters into the US because “in my country I have nothing, I don’t have a house, I don’t have anything,” she told EFE on Tuesday.
After probing along the bank of the Rio Grande, which has very little water at present, Caridad and her daughters found a spot on the border with no military personnel nearby and crossed into the US, intending to turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents and ask for political asylum.
“Where we came from, there’s a lot of poverty,” she said before taking off her shoes and crossing the river. And, just like the trio, dozens more people have decided to seek the American Dream in recent weeks, although immigration authorities consulted by EFE provided no precise figures for recent crossings or captures.
Official figures provided to EFE, however, do show that in 2020 there were 2,132 foreigners who appeared before immigration authorities in Mexico’s Chihuahua state.
Among the first moves made by Biden just hours after he began his presidency was freezing the construction of the controversial border wall with Mexico, safeguarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program benefiting undocumented young people who were brought to the US illegally as little children and including undocumented migrants in the US Census count.
Biden also announced the definitive suppression of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) – known as the “Remain in Mexico” program – obligating people requesting refugee status in the US to remain in Mexico while their cases are considered.
Nevertheless, Enrique Valenzuela, the general coordinator of the State Population Council (COESPO) in Chihuahua, noted that the new policy has not prevented US authorities from returning many migrants to Mexico under Title 42.
“Title 42 remains in effect, and it has nothing to do with migration policy but rather with health policy,” he said.
During Republican President Donald Trump’s administration, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2020 issued Title 42 as part of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This measure says that the Customs and Border Protection department may summarily return migrants to Mexico if they have entered the US illegally or by some irregular means without giving them the opportunity to request asylum or protection under US law.
“Now is not the best time to start the trip and to arrive at the border with the aim of entering the US,” Valenzuela said.
According to official figures, the US repatriated a total of 184,423 Mexicans in 2020.
Of those, 13,471 were deported via border crossing points in Chihuahua.
Because of the unending migrant flow northwards through Chihuahua, Ciudad Juarez now has 16 migrant shelters that can house about 1,000 people.
The Pan de Vida shelter has a number of houses painted blue and white by the migrants themselves. There’s also a big yard with swings and other playground contraptions for kids.
Ismael Martinez, who is in charge of the shelter that currently houses about 150 people, including six pregnant women, said that the recent increase in migration is due to the new US policies under Biden.