Halt to end of US’ Title 42 snatches hopes of migrants in Mexico’s Tijuana

By Manuel Ayala

Tijuana, Mexico, May 23 (EFE).- The blocking of planned end to Title 42, a regulation used by the United States to expel undocumented immigrants during the Covid-19 pandemic, dashed the hopes of thousands of migrants in Mexico who had been waiting for Monday, when the measure was to be scrapped.

Many of the migrants had focused on the fact that finally their crossing would take place through Tijuana into California, putting an end the uncertainty that prevails on the northern border of Mexico.

Throughout Sunday and Monday, migrants spoke out in demonstrations and press conferences about the risks to which they are exposed on the border, including violence, mental health issues, unemployment and lack of housing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced weeks ago the end of Title 42 for Monday, May 23, but Louisiana Judge Robert Summerhays suspended preparations to rescind it and on Friday definitively blocked its lifting.

Title 42 is a migrant expulsion regulation that the CDC imposed in 2020 on public health grounds to prevent the spread of Covid-19 under then-president Donald Trump, and that has remained in force under the Joe Biden administration.

Augustin Sadrack, a Haitian migrant who has been in the city for four years and who had been confident that he could finalize his asylum process, said in an interview with EFE that the continuation of Title 42 is “bad” because “we are living a very complicated life here.”

He said that since Friday when the judge blocked the regulation’s ending, migrants no longer know what else they can do.

“There are many people who sleep on the street, who don’t have a house to live in and there are many children living with their parents who can’t find enough to eat and live well,” Sadrack said.

His compatriot, Jocelyn Rhau, who has been in Mexico for two years, agreed that the asylum situation is “difficult.”

In recent months they have watched migrants of other nationalities, such as Ukrainians, arrive and cross into the US.

“We can’t cross. I don’t know how we’re going to make it so that we can cross. Let’s hope they help us migrants, because Haitians are suffering a lot and life is very complicated,” she said.

Jesse, a migrant who collaborates with the Espacio Migrante organization, told EFE that the issue is “a series of problems and risks.”

“Here we live problems that have to do with police arrests for racial profiling, many people who have mental health problems and are not being treated, and in the medical area, many do not have insurance to go to hospitals, which is added to the rental costs that rise when they are people of color,” Jesse stressed.

Activists such as Soraya Vázquez from the organization Al Otro Lado, told reporters that it should not be ignored that “this migration policy has caused thousands of people to be in dangerous border areas, where governments have not implemented comprehensive policies.”

For this reason, Vázquez said, they not only question the US government for allowing this “discriminatory” practice, but also the Mexican government, “which made itself available to and has been an accomplice of the United States government, affecting the lives of thousands of people seeking asylum.”

According to data shared by activist Psyche Calderón Vargas from the Refugee Health Alliance organization, Title 42 has blocked almost 2 million people from applying for asylum in the US since March 2020, when the measure was ordered by Trump.

The activist condemned the decision made by Judge Summerhays to block the end of this measure, since he considers that “it is based on the costs that this would cause to the United States, and not on public health” as they have been claiming.

“Contrary to what they intend (…) what Title 42 generates is that people try to cross multiple times through various places on the border, which increases the risk of death and endangers the most vulnerable people such as the children and sick people,” he said.

Médecins Sans Frontières Mexico denounced on Monday that the regulation “has nothing to do with health or the pandemic,” and that the “sole purpose of maintaining Title 42 is to allow the mass expulsion of asylum seekers, without due process.” EFE

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