Social Issues

Migrants in Mexico find ways around Title 42

By Manuel Ayala

Tijuana, Mexico, Jan 28 (EFE).- With help from activists, some of the migrants congregated in this metropolis on Mexico’s northern border are getting the opportunity to apply for asylum in the United States.

Every day, dozens of Central American and Mexican asylum-seekers cross legally from Tijuana to California for meetings with US immigration officials thanks to an exception in Title 42, a provision of federal health law allowing the exclusion of individuals when “there is serious danger of the introduction of (a communicable) disease into the United States.”

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump invoked Title 42 to order the immediate expulsion of foreigners arriving at the border to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

While Trump’s Democratic successor, Joe Biden, sought to end the application of Title 42, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Republican state governments who challenged the policy change and the rule remains in effect.

Groups such the Salvation Army and Al Otro Lado (On the Other Side), a migrant support organization with facilities in Tijuana and Los Angeles, have worked with migrant shelters here to identify people who qualify for the Title 42 exemption.

One family who have benefited from the effort is that of Beatriz Cabrera, her female partner and Beatriz’s two children.

“Today we are very happy because they give us this possibility, because as we belong to the LGBT community, we go through many difficult things,” she tells EFE.

Beatriz said that they left her hometown in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato because of constant harassment and threats.

After living the first six weeks in Tijuana on the street, they came upon the Movimiento Juventud 2000 (Youth Movement 2000) migrant shelter, located just 1 km (0.6 mi) from the San Ysidro border crossing.

Mayra Lizeth Vanegas and eight members of her family left their native Honduras five years ago because of death threats against one of her sons.

In Tapachula, on Mexico’s border with Guatemala, one of her nieces was kidnapped, and the family encountered more dangers as they made their way north across the Aztec nation.

Like Beatriz’s family, Vanegas and her kin were without lodging in Tijuana until a good Samaritan led them to Juventud 2000.

“That person is our angel,” Mayra said, recounting her children’s enjoyment of the holiday festivities at the shelter.

The director of Juventud 2000, Jose Maria Garcia Lara, told EFE that he and his staff embarked six months ago on the project of finding ways around Title 42.

While securing an interview with a US immigration official is no guarantee of success, it does represent “an opportunity to present their requests and to not be on the border waiting months or years, as has happened with other migrants,” he said.

Sebastian Farias, of Psicologos Sin Fronteras (Psychologists Without Borders), said that volunteers with his organization help prepare asylum-seekers for their interviews.

US Customs and Border Protection said that its agents detained a record 2.76 million unauthorized migrants on the Mexican border during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2022. EFE


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