Vanishing asylum safety for migrant households at Border Check Biden | World information

(Reuters) – Melissa Pinedo, a 27-year-old single mother from Guatemala, has lived in a tent in Reynosa, Mexico, across the Texas border for weeks, trying to find someone to call about a quick-closing window to search US -Asylum.

“There are numerous lawyers circulating, but no one answers. They are overwhelmed,” she said in a telephone interview.

She is one of thousands of migrants in northern Mexico who are left with few options as the US government and nonprofit groups run a program that has allowed a limited number of asylum seekers to be exempted from comprehensive border deportation policies.

Pinedo said she and her brother witnessed the gang murder of a shopkeeper who had not paid extortion fees two years ago. Gang members tracked down her brother and killed him a month later, she said. She fled to another neighborhood.

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But she decided to flee north with her 8-year-old daughter earlier this year after gang members found her and tried to kidnap her, she said.

She made her way across Mexico by bus, hoping to seek asylum in the United States, and this summer paid $ 1,000 to smugglers to cross the Rio Grande. But border officials quickly evicted them before Pinedo had a chance to tell them her story.

Two weeks ago she desperately decided to send her daughter across the border alone. Her daughter is now in federal underage custody pending release to Pinedo’s relative, who lives in Los Angeles.

Now that the humanitarian exemptions from deportation policies are waning, Pinedo is running out of opportunities to seek safety and reunite with her daughter.

The controversial public health policy known as Title 42 allows border officials to quickly evict most migrants caught crossing the US-Mexico border.

US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, upheld the March 2020 public health ordinance and recently renewed it. In addition to the government’s policy of pushing migrants back into northern Mexico, the government began flying migrants to Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala last week.

Biden, who took office and pledged a more humane approach to immigration than his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, instituted a system earlier this year that allowed some migrants, who are considered most at risk, to seek protection in the United States. He also exempted unaccompanied minors from the policy.

A consortium of nonprofits that has helped the administration identify migrants at risk for these exemptions will end its program later this month, participating groups said. The groups have stated that they want to end Title 42 and always consider the exemptions to be temporary.

At the same time, a separate similar process organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ended Monday, ACLU attorney Lee Learned after the organization brought a lawsuit against the government to abolish the Title 42 family policy had resumed. The lawsuit argues that it is illegal to cut access to asylum at the border and that migrants are at risk of kidnapping and assault if stranded in dangerous border towns in Mexico.

“The Biden administration’s decision to abruptly end humanitarian exemptions and keep the border illegally closed to asylum seekers plays into the hands of cartels that claim they are the only reliable means for people to enter the United States,” said Noah Gottschalk from Oxfam America. one of the groups involved in the litigation.

David Shahoulian, a senior US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, said in a court statement that the government was “obliged to continue to use mechanisms” to allow exceptions without further elaboration.

When asked about the end of the exemptions, DHS said the agency’s “collaboration with case-naming organizations is fluid,” without giving any further details on future plans. US Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which cares for unaccompanied minors, did not respond to a request for comment on individual cases.

According to Shahoulian’s court statement, around 16,000 migrants have so far been granted the humanitarian exemptions under Biden, who took office on January 20. That’s a small fraction of the more than half a million migrants encountered at the border, including families with young children who have been shown under Title 42 since February. These numbers include people who may have tried to cross the line multiple times.

Reynosa is now home to an estimated 2,000 people – mostly families from Central America – in a small square full of camping tents, clotheslines, and informal communal kitchens near the international bridge that leads to McAllen, Texas.

Ingrid Aguilar, 39, also from Guatemala, has been on the field for two months after she and her 17-year-old son were caught and expelled by US border agents. She said she fled her home country after gangs threatened her son.

She is now helping to distribute food and other donations to the people in the square who have little access to basic amenities. People in the city are demanding migrants to bathe and use toilets, she said, which drains the people’s minimal resources.

After being deported to Mexico, Aguilar was so concerned that her son might be forced to return to Guatemala that she sent him across the border alone. She stayed and hoped for a humanitarian exception.

Now she’s waiting with a few answers.

“They just tell you to register and wait for a call,” she said in a telephone interview. “It’s so dangerous here. If you flee your country, you end up here and it’s the same.”

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Additional reporting by Laura Gottesdiener in Monterrey, Mexico and Kristina Cooke in San Francisco, editing by Ross Colvin and Aurora Ellis)

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