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The United States expects a “chaotic” situation on the border with Mexico. Restrictions, known as “Title 42” and dating from the Covid-19 pandemic, are to be lifted overnight from Thursday to Friday, prompting an influx of migrants.
The United States must lift, Thursday evening, May 10, “Title 42”, a measure locking access to their territory since the start of the pandemic, a change which causes confusion and anxiety for the thousands of migrants massed at the border with Mexico.
Even President Joe Biden acknowledged that the situation would be “chaotic”. In an attempt to respond, the federal state has mobilized “more than 24,000 agents and law enforcement” at the border, in addition to 4,000 soldiers.
The measure is scheduled to be lifted at 11:59 p.m. Washington time (3:59 a.m. GMT Friday), but crossings of migrants trying to reach the American Eldorado are already on the rise, noted the Texas border towns of Brownsville, Laredo and El Paso.
“It’s going to be hard, very hard,” said the mayor of the latter, Oscar Leeser, on Wednesday. “We don’t know what’s going to happen the next day, we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next ten days,” he said. His hometown of El Paso, a major endpoint, is “preparing for the unknown,” he added.
On the other side of the border, Marta Pérez, from Guatemala, is waiting with her two daughters, aged 2 and 4. In tears, she explains that her husband and one of her sons were killed, and that another of her children, a teenager, is alone in the United States. “Now all I want is to cross” the border, she told AFP in Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican town facing El Paso.
“Very difficult” weeks ahead
US Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged that ‘the days and weeks ahead’ could be ‘very difficult’, confirming that authorities were already observing a ‘high number of arrivals in some areas’ .
Faced with changes in migration arrangements, rumors spread by smugglers and a complex online procedure, the migrants who pile up in northern Mexico bear witness to a procedural puzzle.
“We don’t know what’s going on,” says Michel, a Venezuelan crossed by AFP in Ciudad Juarez, some 300 meters from the border. “They make things more difficult for us,” he complains, frustrated after another failure on the CBP One mobile application, on which you must now make an appointment.
Some of them are rushing to cross the border before Thursday evening to seek asylum, fearing the change in rules will prevent them from doing so for five years. Migrants come mainly from Latin America but also from China, Russia or Turkey.
A “sieve” border for the Republicans
“Title 42”, supposed to limit the spread of Covid-19, gave the possibility to the American authorities to immediately return all migrants entering the country, including asylum seekers. In three years, it has been used 2.8 million times.
New asylum restrictions, finalized by the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, will go into effect Thursday evening. Before presenting themselves at the border, asylum seekers, with the exception of unaccompanied minors, must now have obtained an appointment on a telephone application set up by the border guards, or have been refused access. asylum in one of the countries crossed during their migratory journey. Otherwise, their request will be presumed illegitimate and they may be subject to an accelerated deportation procedure, prohibiting them from entering American soil for five years.
The Democratic executive is keen, on this hot topic, to display a balanced migration policy, while the Republicans accuse Joe Biden, new candidate for 2024, of having transformed the border into a “sieve”. To encourage legal channels of immigration, Washington has thus planned to open a hundred centers abroad in the long term to study on the spot the files of candidates for emigration. The first are planned in Colombia and Guatemala.