1683985714 Tense calm at the crowded border first hours after the

Tense calm at the crowded border: first hours after the end of title 42

After the storm at the end of Title 42 came a tense calm. Calm reigned at the border between Mexico and the United States this Friday after 11:59 p.m. ET the public health emergency measure imposed by Donald Trump as immigration policy to remove more than 3.6 million people, including legitimate asylum seekers, deport quickly.

At Gate 42 of the giant fence that separates Ciudad Juárez from El Paso, Texas, one of the most iconic points of the penultimate migration crisis between the two countries, lies the mission of the Border Patrol (CBP, in its English acronym). We are processing each individual case and transporting the huddled migrants to a makeshift camp (already on US soil) where 2,500 people have gathered over the past 72 hours. When the time came for Title 42 to end, about 400 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, awaited the arrival of buses and vans that would take them to US immigration authorities. At dawn on Friday there were only about 150.

A few hours later, on the Ciudad Juárez side, a group of ten Peruvians, four adults and six children, frantically ran down a dirt road that runs parallel to the wall. They searched for answers about the best way to try their luck and get in, but there was no way: all the doors were tightly locked. One woman, the oldest in the group, cried: “We were a day late, a day late,” she said.

At Sacred Heart Church in El Paso, groups of newcomers, far fewer in number than in previous days, shared the uncertainty of their future. Also doubts about the further steps of a certainly complicated legal process. “Anyone of us who has worked in this area for years knows that it is almost always the other way around. After the calm, a new storm usually comes,” warned Fernando García, executive director of the NGO Red Fronteriza por los Derechos Humanos.

A migrant waves from one of the buses that took a group of people arriving at Gate 42 in El Paso to Immigration Services on Thursday. A migrant waves from one of the buses that took a group of people arriving at Gate 42 in El Paso to Immigration Services on Thursday. STRINGER (Portal)

Alejandro Mayorkas himself, Secretary of State for National Security, was preparing for the worst this week as he warned that “complicated days and weeks” could come. Whether they arrived or not, the preparatory work for the most dreaded moment on both sides of the border proved capable of repelling at least the first blow; Thanks to the cooperation of federal, state, and local authorities, the Armageddon prophesied by members of the most extreme wing of the Republican Party did not materialize.

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As a result, a Department of Homeland Security official told a group of reporters in Washington on Friday with relief that the border was “busy but not chaotic.” He added that such a thing is possible because of the new rules adopted to prosecute those trying to cross the border illegally. It has escaped no one that President Joe Biden has invested enormous political capital in this matter, which will be one of the issues that will take center stage in the 2024 campaign in which he is seeking re-election.

Mayorkas greeted the new era with a message at the same time as Title 42 was phased out. In it he addressed migrants, urging them not to believe “the lies of traffickers” who tell them the border will be “open” from this Friday. “It’s not. Those who fail to use available legal avenues to enter the United States face harsher consequences, including a minimum five-year re-entry ban and possible criminal prosecution.”

Mayorkas was referring to one of the key points of the new immigration policy, since only Title 8 is now in effect. This never went out of force, but was the only applicable regulation until March 2020. It has lived with Title 42 ever since, and it is up to the discretion of border officials to apply one or the other. In the past few weeks, Title 42 has only been used 17% of the time.

The 8 provides for a tightening of the requirements for an asylum application. The rule is old but contains new features: those who arrive in search of refuge must apply for it via a mobile application in their country of origin or, if not, prove that they have tried at other stages of the journey and at the asylum they were given rejected. The idea is that they travel with the knowledge that at least their cases will be taken care of. Should they arrive without fulfilling these requirements or not being entitled to asylum, they would be deported “quickly”, Mayorkas promised. If they are caught trying to cross the border again during this time, they face prison terms in the United States.

Deportations are carried out to their country of origin, unless there are no agreements in this regard. Border police sources in El Paso reminded Thursday that shipping planes from the airport to places like Guatemala and Honduras will continue as before at a rate of “24 per week.”

Asylum seekers in the US must wait in a detention center while their application is processed. In order to achieve their goal, it is important that they demonstrate that they are in a situation of ‘plausible fear’, meaning that wherever they come from, their life is in danger.

The collapse of the system

Title 42 allowed for swift investigation of the cases and expulsion of the migrants; the decision took between 10 and 30 minutes. The new regulation extends this procedure to more than one hour per asylum seeker. And that threatens to collapse a system that is already on the brink.

Shortly before Title 42 expired, a federal judge in Florida issued an order barring the Border Patrol Service (CBP) from releasing migrants who have not yet received an appointment to appear before an immigration judge. The decision was in response to CBP’s announcement this week that it was taking this exceptional measure to prevent overcrowding at its facilities. El Paso authorities have already opened a new city shelter to try to relieve the system, and the mayor said Friday it was too early to call a victory. “We must prepare for the unknown,” said Oscar Leeser.

With the apocalypse still awaiting, the alarming Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had to be content to play the state guard role he had deployed on the border in containing the crisis by turning himself in upon a declaration of a state of emergency.

Messages of calm echoed across the chasm. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard congratulated himself in the morning on the “quiet and normal situation without major conflicts” along the 3,200-kilometer watershed, where around 60,000 people are still waiting to jump to the United States, according to border guard Raúl Ortiz on Thursday.

Ebrard gave his own numbers: 10,000 migrants in Ciudad Juárez, 5,500 in Matamoros near Brownsville, Texas, and about 500 in Tijuana near the California city of San Diego. The foreign minister added that “a decrease in flows observed in recent days” could be observed.

For its part, the State Department has created a new website to help migrants understand how the admittedly insane system works and choose from new opportunities to legally migrate to the United States, which opened at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday .

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