By Guadalupe Peñuelas
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, May 28 (EFE).- A week after a federal judge in the United States blocked President Joe Biden from ending a regulation that keeps out asylum-seekers on health grounds due to Covid-19, disappointment and uncertainty reign among the thousands of migrants whose pursuit of the “American Dream” remains on hold in this gritty metropolis across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump decided to use Title 42, a provision of the 1944 Public Health Services Law, as a mechanism for the summary denial of asylum claims.
Biden, who took office in January 2021, had intended to end the practice on May 23, but the court ruling derailed that plan.
Doris Centeno, a Honduran who has spent the last three months at the Casa del Migrante shelter in Ciudad Juarez, told Efe that while the news Title 42 will remain in force was a heavy blow, her faith gave her strength.
“I hope that sooner or later that gentleman (Joe Biden) reflects and allows us to cross,” she said. “We are not criminals. Nobody likes to leave his or her country. We left because of problems and we ask him to be more humane.”
Declaring that she has “suffered too much” to get this far, Centeno said that some people who made the journey with her from Honduras died on the way.
And the migrants, mostly from Central America but with substantial contingents of Haitians, Venezuelans, and Cubans, face the necessity of finding work in Juarez to keep body and soul together while awaiting their chance to enter the US.
The Rev. Francisco Javier Bueno, a priest who helps manage the Casa del Migrante, told Efe that he and his colleagues at the shelter will not flag in their efforts to help the migrants.
“For us the work with them does not change,” he said. “Several migrants are waiting for responses in their cases whether or not Title 42 is withdrawn.”
Casa del Migrante’s director, the Rev. Javier Calvillo, said that the shelter currently holds 350 people, up from 250 a few days ago, apparently reflecting an increase in the northbound flow amid anticipation that Title 42 would be scrapped.
Grissel Ramirez, who runs the Esperanza para Todos (Hope for All) migrant shelter, says that she and her staff are now looking after 230 people, well above the establishment’s official capacity of 180.
“With God’s help is how we give them the assistance they require,” she tells Efe.
Last Monday, the Mexico project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) issued a statement describing Title 42 as having “nothing to do with health or with the pandemic.”
“The only point of maintaining Title 42 is to allow for the mass expulsion of asylum seekers without due legal process from the US back to Mexico,” Gemma Dominquez said.
The region is experiencing a record flow of migrants trying to make their way to the US, whose Customs and Border Protection agency intercepted a record 1.7 million undocumented migrants trying to enter the country illegally in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2021.
Another 1 million-plus have been detected at the border thus far in the 2022 fiscal year, and Mexico deported more than 114,000 undocumented migrants last year, according to the Government Secretariat’s Migration Policy Unit. EFE