Home News Biden’s new order leaves border migrants’ asylum fate in limbo

Biden’s new order leaves border migrants’ asylum fate in limbo


Fabiola Yépez, a 20-year-old Venezuelan mother, was taking shelter under a bridge in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, with her toddler son when she first learned of President Biden’s new executive order restricting asylum seekers.

She still planned to try to cross into the United States on Wednesday, hours after the order went into effect, despite witnessing U.S. soldiers on the other side of the border firing non-lethal projectiles at migrants the day before.

“Maybe it’s not what they say, and they won’t let us go back,” Ms. Yepez said. “I’m scared, especially with my baby in my arms.”

Under the influence of the new orderMigrants scattered along the U.S.-Mexico border are trying to understand how the measure, the most restrictive border policy Biden has enacted, will affect them. The directive allows the U.S. to temporarily close the border to asylum seekers if the number of illegal crossings reaches 2,500 per day over a seven-day average.

There appeared to be confusion in some places along the border on Wednesday about whether the order was technically in effect and whether border agents should enforce it. Shelter operators and humanitarian workers in Mexico also struggled to understand what the order meant.

Juan Fierro Garcia, director of El Buen Samaritano, a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez that borders El Paso, said the new policy would put more pressure on his operation and other local shelters if large numbers of migrants were turned away.

He noted that the city’s current relatively low number of immigrants has fallen sharply since the beginning of the year. As Mexico steps up enforcement measures Transporting people across the border to other parts of the country.

Fierro Garcia said his shelter is mostly populated by families who have been waiting for months to be interviewed by U.S. immigration officials through CBP One, an app used to schedule asylum applications. But although the shelter is designed to hold 280 people, it is only housing 55, and Fierro Garcia said food is scarce.

“We don’t have enough supplies right now to take in more refugees,” he said.

Some people were still entering the U.S. Wednesday morning, reflecting the limited exceptions to the new restrictions, including minors crossing alone, victims of human trafficking and people using the CBP One app. It was unclear in some places whether the executive order would be enforced immediately.

In Mexicali, which borders Calexico, California, more than a dozen migrants who appeared to be from Haiti and had CBP One appointments were allowed in Wednesday morning. Others, however, were denied entry.

Georgina Esquivel, 40, a food seller in the Mexican state of Morelos, said she had not heard of Biden’s order. Ms. Esquivel said she and her 10-year-old daughter, Maria, had hoped to apply for asylum in the United States without a CBP One appointment but were turned away by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.

“I’m staying here,” Ms. Esquivel said. “I don’t even know what to do. I don’t want to go back to Morelos, and I don’t want to stay in Mexicali.”

At an open-air holding facility between two walls along the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego’s Tijuana River basin, dozens of migrants who crossed on Wednesday gathered and waited for Border Patrol to pick them up for processing.

“I would say it’s business as usual,” said Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee, a nonprofit that provides aid to migrants and provides them with food and water. The only change, he said, was that fewer people appeared to be crossing the border on Wednesday compared with previous days.

In El Paso, shelter operators said it may be too early to see the specific effects of the order.

“We have to give it a chance to develop,” said Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House, a nonprofit shelter system. “You’re talking about an order that’s going to involve logistical implementation. So we have to give them a chance to see how it’s actually done.”

Garcia also stressed that the number of migrants currently waiting to cross the border is extremely low compared to previous years, so the order is unlikely to have a significant impact.

Mexican immigration experts say Biden’s executive order is concerning and could put asylum seekers at risk.

“I see echoes of mechanisms that have been tried in the past,” said Rafael Velásquez García, Mexico director for the International Rescue Committee, one of the world’s leading refugee aid organizations. He noted that previous actions, such as Article 42, failed to reduce the demand for asylum, increase Mexico’s capacity to receive migrants, or allocate resources to increase opportunities within Mexico.

“I don’t understand the point of this,” he added. “It just doesn’t work.”

Analysts say Mexico will bear the brunt of the measure regardless. Immigration authorities are likely to use detention and Send them to distant states by bus to try to overwhelm them, said Eunice Rendón, coordinator of the Migrant Agenda, a coalition of Mexican advocacy groups.

“This flow is neither safe nor orderly,” Ms. Lunden said. “This is the opposite of what you want migration to be.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador denied Wednesday that the executive order would cause problems for Mexican officials, saying his government was helping the U.S. reach deals with other countries to directly expel migrants. It was unclear which countries he was referring to or how that would happen.

Some of the migrants who have managed to enter the United States in recent days have been surprised by their luck.

José Luis Posada, a 23-year-old Salvadoran, said he crossed over the border wall near Tijuana on Monday. Border Patrol agents released him at a public transportation station in San Diego on Wednesday.

“It’s a miracle,” Mr. Posada said of his timing. He did not learn about Mr. Biden’s new executive order until Wednesday.

“God knows what he’s doing, and here we are,” he said.

Erin Copps Reporting from Mexicali, Mexico, Jonathan Wolfe From San Diego and Reyes Mata III From El Paso.

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