On the US-Mexico border, hopes and fears related to Biden’s order limiting asylum

EL PASO, Texas – Seventeen-year-old Karina Parababire gently rocked her three-month-old daughter as she waited at an migrant shelter before her Friday evening bus ride to Chicago.

“I want my daughter to have everything I didn’t have” – Parababire, who traveled an extremely risky route Darien Gap pregnant, he said in Spanish.

The Venezuelan woman, who is traveling with her family, had to stop in Honduras to give birth to her daughter Avis before going to the United States. After arriving in Mexico, she and her family made an appointment through the CBP One app, a tool the Biden administration is using to allow migrants to meet with an asylum officer.

She had been staying with her family at the Sacred Heart of Jesus shelter for four days. They planned to continue their journey to Chicago, where their cousin would meet them. Parababire hopes that once she reaches the Windy City, she will be able to return to high school and possibly attend college.

Karina Parababire, 17, with her three-month-old daughter Avis, waits for a bus to Chicago. (Photo: Ariana Figueroa/States Newsroom)

Parababire and her relatives arrived in the United States just before President Joe Biden issued an executive order which partially prohibits asylum applications where illegal daily crossings exceed the threshold. Because the family was admitted through the CBP One app, they were allowed to continue their journey.

As for other migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border, local leaders said this week that they expected the order’s effects to be somewhat beneficial in curbing illegal border crossings, though there was also much skepticism.

Immigration advocates expressed deep concern that the order — issued after Congress failed to act on sweeping immigration legislation — would lead to more harm to already vulnerable people.

“I came here today to do what Republicans in Congress refuse to do, which is take the necessary steps to secure our border,” Biden said when announcing the order, referring to the bipartisan border security agreement that Republicans left earlier this year . “This action will help us take control of our border.”

Uncertainty about up-to-date policy

The shelter at Sacred Heart Church, where the Parababires were staying, currently houses a relatively diminutive number of migrants – about 70 compared to 120 spaces.

Director Michael DeBruhl said it’s unclear how the order will affect the number of migrants arriving not only at the shelter but also at multiple ports of entry along the southern border.

“The thing is that the Border Guard will bear the burden of this order and will have to consider everyone,” he said. “The difference will be that there are nuances about how everything may apply to asylum, so these will make it more difficult to apply for asylum.”

The massive question, DeBruhl said, is “how exactly they do it.”

“We will have all the Border Patrol agents making the decisions and all the nuances of the policy that was just implemented,” he said.

A Customs and Border Protection official declined to comment on the impact of the up-to-date order, but noted that it would change the rules for processing noncitizens at the southern border.

Local officials saw some positives. “It’s a start, but it’s just a start,” El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said during a Wednesday presentation to reporters and local border officials.

The border wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico bordering Puerto De Anapra, Mexico. (Photo: Ariana Figueroa/States Newsroom)

Leeser was one of several Texas mayors who attended the White House announcement this week’s executive order.

Leeser said he believes the order will deter illegal border crossings because “the consequences are more serious now and that’s the difference.”

Presidential campaign

The order, Biden’s most drastic attack on immigration during his administration, was issued five months before the presidential election in which it is the most essential issue for voters and his Republican Party rival, former President Donald Trump.

The order is now in effect as the number of daily illegal crossings at the southern border has exceeded 2,500 migrant encounters per day for a week.

“Simply put, departments do not have the appropriate resources and tools to make timely decisions and pursue consequences for people who cross the border illegally and cannot establish a legal basis to remain in the United States, or to provide timely protection for people ultimately determined to be eligible.” to protect when individuals reach such high, historic heights,” in accordance with the text of the interim final rule in the Executive Order.

The order will expire when government officials determine that fewer than 1,500 people a day crossed the border during the week. Unaccompanied children are exempt, as are victims of human trafficking, people on visas, people with medical emergencies or people reporting a stern threat to their life.

Those migrants who arrive at ports of entry to seek asylum after reaching the quota and do not establish a “reasonable likelihood of persecution or torture in the country of removal” will be expelled and subject to a five-year bar from seeking asylum in the United States, – reports the Department of Homeland Security.

Return to Mexico or home countries

Leeser said the order will assist manage the huge number of migrants arriving at ports of entry because it will allow the Biden administration to return those migrants to their home countries or elsewhere in Mexico if their home country is deemed too risky.

As a result, Leeser said he expects migrants to employ more legal pathways, such as the CBP One app, through which people can schedule an appointment with an immigration officer to apply for asylum.

Through the CPB One app, more than 1,400 migrants are scheduled to meet with an immigration officer every day. According to A., the waiting time for an appointment may range from five to eight months Maybe report it by the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, which documents asylum claims at ports of entry.

But Juan Acereto Cervera, an aide to the mayor of Juárez, Mexico, which borders El Paso, expressed skepticism that the up-to-date White House policy would deter people from trying to cross the border to seek asylum.

When migrants first arrive at the Church of the Sacred Heart shelter, they can choose their own clothes in a “closet” filled with items for babies, children and adults donated by the El Paso community. (Photo: Ariana Figueroa/States Newsroom)

“Nothing will stop this migration,” he said. “It’s because something is happening in their other countries that makes these people try to find the best country in the world, which is the United States. That’s the truth.”

Jorge Rodriguez, coordinator of the El Paso City-County Office of Emergency Management, said the number of migrants arriving in El Paso often fluctuates due to changes in immigration policy implemented by the White House.

“Over time… we will see how this case ultimately ends,” he said.

Legal action is coming

According to US immigration law, in order for a foreigner to apply for asylum, he or she must arrive in the US and then submit an application. They can remain in the U.S. and receive due process if they fear persecution based on “race, religion, national origin, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has spearheaded numerous lawsuits against the Trump administration’s immigration policies – including those restricting asylum – he already stated plans to sue the Biden administration over its order.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, whose district includes El Paso, said in a statement that she was disappointed that the Biden administration focused its executive orders solely on law enforcement.

“I sincerely hope that administrative action on immigration relief will also be taken, such as parole for spouses of U.S. citizens and granting Temporary Protected Status to vulnerable populations,” she said.

“A Very Dangerous Place”

Immigration advocates and lawyers in El Paso said during a separate panel with reporters Wednesday that they are concerned about the impact the executive order could have on migrants.

“I think we kind of know what’s going to happen – a backlog is building,” said Imelda Maynard, an attorney at Estrella Del Paso Legal Aid.

Maynard said she could easily see how the executive order would be misinterpreted by migrants who consider the 2,500 threshold to be the quota to allow people to enter the U.S.

“What the government is trying to do, right, reduce the number of illegal entries, I think that will increase,” she said.

Father Rafael Garcia, a priest serving at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, said he expected the executive order would result in more migrants waiting in Mexico, which could burden Mexico and put those migrants in a risky situation.

Artwork by migrant children who temporarily stayed at the Sacred Heart Church shelter before moving on to another location in the U.S. (Photo: Ariana Figueroa/States Newsroom)

“It’s hard to know how this is all going to play out, but it’s not looking very good,” Garcia said.

Sacred Heart Church director DeBruhl said he believed the full effects of the executive order would be observable in a few weeks.

“Conservatives say it won’t make any difference… the (Biden) administration says it will have a specific (effect) and be quite influential,” he said. “I don’t think anyone really knew how it was going to turn out.”

Aimée Santillán, a policy analyst at the Hope Border Institute who advocates for solidarity and justice in border areas, said that under the order many migrants would have to wait in Mexico, and “Mexico right now is a very dangerous place for W migrants. “

“We believe this could exacerbate the situation or prompt people to… find other routes into the country that are less controlled, provide fewer services and fewer people receive them and provide assistance,” she said.

This story was reported as part of an El Paso-based fellowship on U.S. immigration policy organized by Poynter, a professional development institute for journalists, with funding from the Catena Foundation.

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