No one yet knows how asylum will work when Title 42 ends

Arrive at a border crossing with Mexico and request asylum from a US official? Register online? Go to a US embassy or consulate?

The Biden administration has been conspicuously silent on how migrants should enter the United States when Trump-era asylum limits end, fueling rumors, confusion and doubts about the government’s readiness despite more than two years to prepare. .

“I wish we had more information to share with people,” said Kate Clark, senior director of immigration services at the Jewish Family Service of San Diego, which has facilitated travel within the United States for more than 110,000 migrants released from custody since October 2018.

Migrants have been denied the rights to seek asylum under US and international law 2.5 million times since March 2020 on COVID-19 prevention grounds, under a public health rule that was scheduled to expire on Wednesday, until Chief Justice John Roberts ordered a temporary stay. Title 42 has been applied disproportionately to those coming from countries that Mexico agrees to readmit: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and more recently Venezuela, in addition to Mexico. People from those countries are expected to drive an expected increase in asylum claims once the rule is lifted.

Many hope the government will use CBPOne, an online platform for booking appointments that was launched in 2020. The mobile app for CBP (Customs and Border Protection) of the United States has had limited use for people applying for travel permits and for those following hearings in US immigration courts under the now-defunct “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Immigrants using the app are expected to schedule appointments to apply for asylum in the United States, but must remain outside the country until the assigned date and time.

Opposed by some advocacy groups on data privacy concerns, CBPOne may be impractical for immigrants without internet access or language skills. The agency also needs to get the word out.

Nicolas Palazzo, a lawyer with the Las Americas Migrant Support Center in El Paso, TexasHe said he is concerned that scammers will charge immigrants to register them and that CBP’s limited processing capacity will lead to intolerable waits.

“Unless they plan to increase that significantly, someone applying to CBPOne will be given a date like a year from now,” Palazzo said. “Realistically, can you seriously tell me that you want people to wait that long?”

Mohamad Reza Taran, 56, left Iran on November 26 after converting to Christianity and flew to TijuanaMexico, where U.S. border inspectors at a San Diego crossing turned him away when he applied for asylum.

The computer technician’s plan is to wait to see if he’ll get in immediately after Title 42 ends, and if not, he said he’d cross the border illegally, perhaps by scaling the border wall in San Diego or walking across the flat desert. in Yuma, Arizona. He has family in Los Angeles and sees the United States as his only option.

“I have nothing here,” Taran said in an interview outside a church in Tijuana, where he was looking for people who could instruct him on US policy.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas, said CBP agents told him last week they hoped to funnel asylum seekers through official crossings and send back to Mexico anyone who crosses the border illegally in the greatest extent possible. Such a decision would likely be challenged in court because asylum law says that people who enter illegally have the right to seek protection.

No one disputes that the Border Patrol it is woefully ill-equipped for prosecution, even as Title 42 kept a check on the numbers.

Border Patrol has paroled nearly 450,000 migrants in the United States through October, including 68,837 in October and 95,191 in September, saving its agents the hard work of issuing warrants to appear in immigration court. According to a GAO (Government Accountability Agency) report, a court case typically takes at least two hours to prepare, compared to the half hour it takes to put someone on probation.

Migrants who are paroled by Border Patrol agents can move freely within the United States and must report to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) offices at their final destinations, normally within two months. .

The GAO report, released in September, details how the processing work imposed on ICE has crippled employees. In March, ICE had scheduled 15,100 appointments for families to complete paperwork through March 2024. One ICE office reported that as many as 500 people a day were showing up in person, most without appointments.

After families appear in court, they are faced with a court system that has more than 2 million backlogs, resulting in multi-year waits for judges to make decisions.

Waiting two years for registration in the court docket reflects a system “totally collapsed,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, director general of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Online registration through CBPOne would be “antithetical to the whole concept of asylum” because it could force people to wait in unsafe places, said Melissa Crow, director of litigation at Hastings Law School’s Center for Gender and Refugee Studies. from the University of California.

Crow and others believe that CBP could process many more people than they have.

Earlier this year, the agency processed up to about 1,000 Ukrainians a day at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing, about three times its custody capacity.

From the pandemic, migrants released in San Diego stay in motels until their departure, usually on a flight to family and friends east of the Mississippi River, Clark explained. To prepare for the end of Title 42, Jewish Family Service opened a building for families to snack, watch TV and play on a patio after booking their trip, freeing up motel rooms for new arrivals. Clark likens it to an “airport lounge.”

CBP has been turning over more immigrants to the Jewish Family Service through waivers to the asylum limits — between 200 and 250 a day, Clark reported. Others are housed by the Diocese of San Diego for Catholic Charities.

“We have been preparing for this day for some time,” Clark said Monday, with no information from CBP about the processing of migrants after the asylum limits end. She anticipates more releases, but she doesn’t know how many.

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