Migrants who were once hopeful about the expiration of a Trump-era expulsion order are now frustrated with the Biden administration’s policies, according to The Associated Press.
Title 42, the Trump-era order, expired May 11, and the Biden administration announced expanded legal measures to mitigate a surge in migrants after that date. Migrants have felt a sense of betrayal over what the Biden administration promised would be access to legal pathways, the AP reported.
“I can’t go back to my country,” Honduran migrant Teodoso Vargas said, according to the AP. “Fear is why I don’t want to return. If I can just show the proof I have, I believe the U.S. will let me in.”
After Title 42 ended, Vargas, his pregnant wife and 5-year-old son traveled to the Tijuana border crossing, but feared that presenting their asylum case to U.S. authorities would mean their expulsion to Honduras, according to the AP. The new legal pathways also aren’t working for Vargas, who bares a large scar from being shot nine times during a robbery in Honduras.
The Biden administration began allowing migrants to apply for entry into the U.S. via a phone application, known as CBP One. Since then, however, migrants have found the app to be riddled with glitches and, even with the expansion of 1,000 appointments available each day, to be inaccessible.
The other pathway to entry is a humanitarian parole program that permits up to 30,000 Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan migrants to enter the country each month via flight who have a U.S. sponsor.
Unable to get an appointment using CBP One and stuck in a crime-ridden area of Mexico, Vargas fears for his future, according to the AP.
“I can’t find enough work here. I’m either going to have to return to Honduras, but I’ll likely be killed, or I don’t know,” he said. “I feel so hopeless.”
Migrants claiming asylum at border crossings are being turned away, immigration lawyers told the AP.
“There seems to be no option right now for people to ask for asylum if they don’t have an appointment through the CBP app,” immigration lawyer Blaine Bookey told the AP.
Priscilla Orta, an attorney with Lawyers for Good Government in Brownsville, Texas, detailed a case of a migrant woman who was tracked down through her phone by a man she says raped her while trying to use her phone to get an entry appointment via CBP One. The woman was again raped and Orta lost contact with her.
“That is harrowing to realize that you’re just going to have to put up with the abuses in Mexico and just kind of continue to take it because if you don’t, then you could forever hurt yourself in the long term,” Orta said.
Eight-month pregnant Mexican migrant Koral Rivera, whose family has been threatened by drug cartel members, said she’s been trying for two months to book an appointment using CBP One, according to the AP. She recently attempted to go to a U.S. crossing, but was stopped by Mexican authorities.
Between January and April, more than 79,000 migrants have scheduled appointments using CBP One, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
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