EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A federal judge’s decision to keep Title 42 in place won’t deter migrants from coming to the United States, immigration advocates and border experts say.
What Friday’s ruling will do is continue to block legitimate asylum-seekers from due process and force them to put their lives at risk by hiring smugglers or take dangerous routes to avoid apprehension, they say.
“It is a bad decision, of course, but we were expecting it. The signs were there. It’s a political decision that violates the rights of individuals seeking refuge and will send people straight to criminal organizations that will put their lives in danger,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights.
Garcia believes migrants will continue to come in great numbers because the violence, poverty and corruption that drove them out of their countries are still rampant. Those conditions must be addressed. In the meantime, the U.S. government must honor its laws and treaty obligations and give asylum seekers due process, he said.
Former U.S. Border Patrol Tucson and El Paso Sector Chief Victor M. Manjarrez Jr. agrees that Title 42 won’t deter illegal immigration.
“I don’t think it’s going to reduce anything,” Manjarrez said regarding the 234,000 encounters border agents and federal officials at ports of entry reported in April. “I think we will continue to experience a high level of activity all across the border and the struggle to come up with sufficient resources by both the Department of Homeland Security and the non-governmental organizations.”
Observers agree that the U.S.-Mexico border is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. Some believe that continuing to give border agents the ability to quickly expel migrants (Title 42 authority) will contain the year-long surge. But others say it is too late.
“This is becoming the new normal. It’s a definition of a disaster: Events that occur that you cannot manage with normal procedures or resources,” Manjarrez said. “It’s not the routine. We’re beyond that. I would call this a disaster.”
Leaders of some NGOs fear that with Title 42 staying in place, the sense of urgency that was building up in recent days to surge resources to those who provide housing, food, transportation and legal services to newly arrived migrants might be gone.
“It’s important that the federal government not turn its back on the border at this moment,” said Linda Corchado, interim executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “This is the time for government officials to streamline processes and communicate with local leaders to be proactive in helping asylum-seekers. That is what is important. This is not the time to walk away.”
Corchado said the decision will only add to the emotional despair already felt by those for whom the United States is their only lifeline.
“These past few weeks, we’ve seen asylum-seekers feeling extremely desperate about the border remaining closed to them. No one really sees the suffering the way we do, and it’s incredibly discouraging,” she said.
Garcia said he doesn’t see any relief in sight for asylum seekers, and a lot of it has to do with the upcoming mid-term congressional elections.
“This is becoming part of a macabre political game. I don’t think the administration will put its heart behind an appeal because the administration and the Democrats don’t want to be perceived as being soft” on border security, he said. “I expect the same approach the administration used with MPP. They have submitted to the court’s decision when they could have appealed with more effort.”
MPP, or the Remain in Mexico program, forces asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for the outcome of their claims.
Garcia also fears the Biden administration will increasingly use another statute, Title 8, to show it is enforcing U.S. immigration laws.
“We will see more express processing under Title 8 and more denials of asylum through summary judgement of inadmissibility. That is a way to say ‘no’ to more people,” he said.
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