Every morning, mothers at a shelter in Juarez, Mexico, frantically refresh a US Government App At 9am, hoping to get an appointment to enter America.
By 9:05 a.m., all appointments and hopes are over.
“It’s (a) lottery with people’s lives, with people’s families, with people’s livelihoods, with people’s well-being,” Karina Bresda, who runs the shelter, told 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi.
The Biden administration hopes the app will prevent immigrants from entering the United States illegally. According to Border Patrol figures, an average of 1,800 migrants cross the Rio Grande in December into El Paso, overwhelming the city. To manage the growing flow of migrants from crisis-hit Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba, President Joe Biden in January expanded the use of a pandemic-era public health order based on a law called Title 42 to deport them to Mexico.
The CBP One app was expanded in January to allow immigrants to apply for Title 42 humanitarian waivers. Administration officials say the process is more humane than what has been going on before.
“It’s not the ‘most humane process’ because the most vulnerable aren’t getting access to it,” Bresda said.
Guadalupe Vazquez spent the past two months trying to get an appointment to come to the U.S. for herself and her three children after she said her husband was murdered in southwestern Mexico. One of his sons was shot in the eye and required removal of a bullet fragment.
Vazquez said he’s willing to wait for an appointment, but if he doesn’t get one, he has a plan.
“I will try to cross with a smuggler, and I will cross with my children,” she said in Spanish.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he doesn’t claim the app and process are flawless. But he said efforts are underway to create a safe, orderly way for immigrants to come to the United States
“I deeply understand the desire of parents in America to give their children opportunities,” Mayorkas said. “We are a nation of laws. If people qualify under the law, we embrace them. If they don’t, we give them back.”
Few have succeeded in accessing that opportunity, including Carla Delgado, her husband and their four children. Because they were able to secure appointments through the CBP One app, all families had to go through a series of background checks and screenings upon arrival at the US border crossing. Nothing was flagged, so they were allowed to enter the country temporarily.
By late afternoon, they were enjoying their first slice of pizza in El Paso, Texas.
The family plans to build a new life in Chicago while they wait for their asylum claim to be heard. It can take years for a judge to determine if the family is eligible.
“Our shelter system is broken,” Secretary Mayorkas said. “We need Congress to fix this.”
The border problems didn’t start with the Biden administration and probably won’t end with it. Congress has failed to pass any major immigration reform in nearly three decades. Secretary Mallorca is asking Congress for additional resources on the southern border.
US Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz testified before Congress that some areas of the border are in crisis. Majorcas wouldn’t call it that.
Asked why, he said, “Because I have tremendous faith in the people at the Department of Homeland Security, and a crisis tells me to withdraw from our mission. And we’re putting more energy and more energy into it.”
Across the border, in Juarez, pressure on immigration continues to mount. A A fire at an immigrant detention center Late Monday killed at least 38 migrants from Central and South America who were about to be deported from Mexico.
“Juárez is in a moment of crisis,” said Cristina Coronado, who runs a food program at the city’s cathedral. “More than 10,000 migrants are now in the city and most of them are sleeping on the streets.”
People are frustrated, angry and confused, he said.
Several men in the plaza outside the cathedral told Alfonsi they had been waiting for weeks to get an appointment to enter the United States through the app, but there weren’t enough slots.
“All people see, one chance at 9 o’clock. Five minutes. No more,” said one man. “Try again the next day.”
As dire as the situation is now, Secretary Mayorkas is about to face what could be another defining moment for the country. May 11, Pandemic-Era Title 42 Expiration of Public Health Policy. Since Title 42 was invoked by the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic, it has allowed U.S. officials at the Southwest border to deport more than 2.6 million illegal border crossers. The migrants were sent to Mexico or their home countries without being allowed to seek asylum in the United States, federal data show.
Without some new measures, the expiration of the order means that the only people the U.S. can deport to Mexico will be Mexicans crossing the border illegally, even as thousands of migrants from around the world continue to arrive at the U.S. southern border every day. .
Secretary Mayorkas said American officials are in ongoing discussions with Mexico on how to handle the increase in people seeking to immigrate. He added that there are situations where Mexico is not willing to accept other citizens.
“It’s going to be complicated. It’s going to be expensive,” Secretary Mayorkas said. “It’s been complex, expensive and challenging for decades.”