Starting at midnight tonight, the Biden administration cannot use COVID-19 as a reason to deport immigrants at the southern border. But as a wave of migrants forms at the border, it is launching one New policy to curb illegal border crossing.
The new regulation, expected to face legal challenges, represents a significant shift in asylum policy. It makes migrants ineligible for U.S. protection unless they seek refugee status in another country, such as Mexico, during their journey to the southern border.
Earlier this week, the US Border Patrol reported a record number of apprehensions in one day: more than 10,000 — and that was before Title 42 expired. Mayors of some US border cities have declared states of emergency as they scramble to take in migrants.
For many US-bound migrants at a camp on the Mexican side of the border, their journey has come to a standstill. Anna Pabon said she has been trying repeatedly to book an appointment for an asylum hearing for her family.
Paban fled Venezuela and returned to the city of Juarez in January. Since then he has spent every day refreshing a US government app hoping for an asylum hearing with no luck.
He is one of many who have been waiting for months, some in shelters. They are anxious and determined, yet unable to initiate the process.
“Every day we hope anew that tomorrow it’s going to work, but all we get is an error message,” said one migrant.
The Biden administration’s new policy could prevent tens of thousands of immigrants like them from seeking asylum in the United States if they don’t first seek it in another country, such as Mexico.
“Don’t risk your life and your life savings just to get out of the United States — if and when — you come here,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Under the new policy, asylum seekers must pass higher standards or be deported from the United States, in some cases for up to five years. Many will now be sent back across the border to Mexico, filling shelters like the one run by Carina Breceda.
“My biggest concern right now is that we already have a backlog,” Bresda said. “We’re already capable here in Juarez, we don’t have dignified housing for people.”
He said the change in policy would not deter immigrants from trying to reach the United States
“All the countries they’ve crossed and all the dangers they’ve faced here… everything that’s happened along the way – nobody’s going to give up and turn back,” Breseda said. “They will keep trying. They are resilient people.”
The House will vote Thursday on a Republican-authored bill aimed at strengthening enforcement efforts at the border. It would resurrect Trump-era immigration policies such as funding a border wall and requiring businesses to verify workers’ legal immigration status. President Biden said he would veto the bill if it reached his desk.