US immigration policy keeping stranded migrants up in the air in Mexico

Tijuana, Mexico, Feb 6 (EFE).- Mexican authorities are touting a drop in the immigration flow a month after the inception of new US restrictions on Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans, but the migrants who remain stranded on Mexico’s northern border are facing an uncertain future.

Activists say that the undocumented migrants who are currently in border cities like Tijuana are living in uncertainty and fear due to the fact that they do not have the right to request asylum because of the new US restrictions.

Jose Maria Garcia Lara, an activist and the director of the Juventud 2000 shelter, located a kilometer (0.62 mile) from the San Ysidro border crossing point, told EFE that some of the migrants who were already in Mexican territory are no longer arriving at the US border.

“We’re seeing that the flow from these communities to the (border city) shelters has dropped a bit. We don’t know if they’re staying elsewhere, because … with the CBP One application they can request asylum more easily from anywhere,” and not specifically on the border, he said.

He added that recently at his shelter there were three Venezuelan families, of whom two managed to enter the US to request asylum, saying that the program is good because it’s helping people who are still in their home countries.

“But those who are here, those who remain, are waiting. They managed to get to (Mexico’s) southern border from their point of origin and cross the entire country but they’re waiting to be able to get into that program,” he said.

Garcia Lara also said that the US program has resulted in a lighter load of migrants at the shelters, given the decline in the migration flow of people from the affected countries. But he called on the US government “to take over these aid programs.”

“Above all for the people seeking support for getting asylum in the US, since many are fleeing (their homelands) due to problems of lack of security. We understand that, although it’s a process, it’s getting saturated,” he said.

Edgar Mendoza, originally from Venezuela, told EFE that he’s been in Mexico for two months trying to request asylum in the US but he hasn’t been able to do so, even though he’s gone through all the new immigration policy requirements.

“We’ve been participating in it since it was implemented, but we’ve gotten nowhere up to now. We get up at six a.m., which is when you get access to the Web page (where one can apply online), but there’s no space for anyone there,” he said.

Rafael Alonso Hernandez, an investigator with the Social Studies Department at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Colef), said in a communique that now one also must take into account that at any time the US could return migrants to Mexico and this situation needs to be clarified.

Even when combined with the aforementioned issues, he said that the risk situation in the countries of origin is such that, despite the difficulties of the northward journey or the conditions in Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana, for example, migrants are preferring to make the attempt and keep their hopes alive for getting into the US.

“Given this scenario, you have to pay attention to the response by the Mexican government to this US return policy, and the actions that are being undertaken to safeguard the wellbeing of the migrant population,” he said.

EFE –/bp

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