Despite end of restrictions migrants continue to travel to US

Despite end of restrictions, migrants continue to travel to US southern border

From the mountain ranges and jungles of Central America to the tops of trains criss-crossing Mexico, migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and elsewhere continue their journeys.

“We’ve done everything humanly possible to be where we are,” Contreras said while resting in a park near a river that separates Mexico and Guatemala.

The problem, according to experts, is that while immigration laws are changing, the causes that are pushing people to flee their countries in record numbers are only lasting over a longer period of time.

“It doesn’t look like this will curb the push or pull factors of migration from Central America, South America and other parts of the world,” says Falko Ernst, chief analyst at the International Crisis Group in Mexico. “The incentives for people to flee and seek refuge in safer places in the United States remain.”

For Contreras, this resurgence came after his brother was killed in Ecuador for failing to pay extortion money to a criminal group. The family lived in a small town on the south coast after fleeing Venezuela’s economic crisis two years earlier.

Others, like Gerardo Escobar, a 25-year-old migrant, left the country in search of a better future after struggling to make ends meet in Venezuela, as did the Contreras family.

Escobar, along with about 60 other migrants, including families and young children, walked down the train tracks outside of Mexico City on Friday morning. They hoped to board a train that migrants have used for their perilous journey for decades.

Escobar was one of many who said they had no idea what the end of Title 42 would mean and that he really didn’t care.

“My dream is to find a job, to eat well, to help my relatives in Venezuela… My dream is to make progress,” he said.

Despite misinformation that led to a sharp spike in migrant arrivals at the border last week, analysts and migrant shelters said they don’t expect the new guidelines to radically reduce the flow of migrants.

Title 42 allowed authorities to use a health law to quickly expel migrants crossing the border and deny them the right to apply for asylum. Under these restrictions, US agents have expelled migrants more than 2.8 million times.

The new rules remove the ability to swiftly deport asylum seekers, but provide for stricter consequences for those who do not follow official immigration channels. Migrants caught crossing illegally are barred from returning for five years and face criminal prosecution if they do.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has also imposed limits on the number of immigrants who can apply for asylum.

At the same time, Biden is likely to continue to pressure Mexico and other countries to make it harder for immigrants to move north.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said he disagreed with the Biden administration’s decision to continue erecting barriers to migration.

However, in a press conference on Friday, he announced that Mexico would speed up deportations and stop giving migrants papers to cross north through Mexico.

Although the new rules are unlikely to have a strong deterrent effect, Ebrard and the director of a migrant shelter in Guatemala said there was a drop in the number of migrants immediately after the avalanche at the US border. However, the director of the shelter confirmed that the number is slowly increasing.

Still, migrants continued to cross the US border even as the new rules were announced. Around midnight, about 60 migrants who had crossed the Rio Grande waited to be processed at a cemetery near Roma, Texas. Among them was a large group of Chinese immigrants huddled in the pouring rain.

Another member of the group, a Guatemalan woman who left her country to escape her abusive husband, crossed the river with her four-year-old son. Due to the change in the law, I wasn’t sure if I was entitled to asylum assistance.

Ernst of the International Crisis Group believes these measures could make an already deadly journey even more dangerous.

“The vulnerable population will increase for criminal groups to exploit, recruit and take advantage of,” he said. “It might just feed the hands of these criminal groups.”

Meanwhile, Contreras continues the journey along with many other migrants, also with no clear route and no information about what awaits them at the US border.

It is worthwhile to give the small children who travel with us a better life, he said.

“We fought a lot for them, we want peace, a humble house where they can study, where to eat well, wherever. “We’re not asking much, we’re asking for peace and quiet,” he said.


Associated Press journalist Marco Ugarte in Huehuetoca, Mexico; Edgar H. Clemente in Tapachula, Mexico; Mark Stevenson in Mexico City; and Colleen Long in Washington, DC contributed to this report.

SPRING: Associated Press