US: Migrants Find Different Fates at Texas, Arizona Borders - - PressFrom - US
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US Migrants Find Different Fates at Texas, Arizona Borders

06:00  12 november  2019
06:00  12 november  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

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Now some migrants are heading to Arizona as word spreads that they are far more likely to be allowed to stay in the U.S. there than if they cross in Texas Some migrants seeking asylum do so after legal border crossings. Those traveling as families often cross illegally and, under previous policies, were

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TUCSON, Ariz.—Across most of the southern U.S. border, hundreds of immigrant families are being ushered out of the country every day as part of the Trump administration program known as “Remain in Mexico.” But in Arizona, many families are finding the policy is still “remain in the U.S.”

a group of people walking down the street: Migrants line up at a soup kitchen in Nogales, in the Mexican state of Sonora.© ALICIA CALDWELL Migrants line up at a soup kitchen in Nogales, in the Mexican state of Sonora.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan pronounced in September that virtually all asylum-seeking families would be either quickly deported or sent to Mexico to wait for their cases to be resolved. Authorities and advocates confirmed, however, that in Arizona many hundreds of such people each week are instead being released to shelters, from which they will likely travel to other states and wait for their cases to be resolved, a process that can take years.

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Shelters in Arizona say the number of migrants being dropped off by border authorities has been roughly constant for the past few months, while shelter operators in other Southwestern states say the number has fallen significantly.

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Now some migrants are heading to Arizona as word spreads that they are far more likely to be allowed to stay in the U.S. there than if they cross in Texas, New Mexico, or California.

“We heard it was easier here,” said Orlando, who left Cuba with his 21-year-old son Oscar six months ago and initially made his way to Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican city across the border from El Paso.

After months of waiting for their chance to cross and request asylum, a Venezuelan migrant the pair met recommended they head to Nogales, just across the border from Arizona, because the program officially known as Migrant Protection Protocol isn’t in effect there. Orlando and Oscar spoke on the condition that they only be identified by their first names.

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Some migrants seeking asylum do so after legal border crossings. Those traveling as families often cross illegally and, under previous policies, were often allowed to wait in the U.S. for their cases to be decided.

Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, confirmed that MPP isn’t in place in Arizona, but said some migrants arrested there are being shuttled to Texas or California and returned to Mexico from there. The agency didn’t respond to questions about why the program isn’t in place in Arizona and how it fit with a statement by acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan last month that, “we have essentially ended catch and release at the southwest border.”

Teresa Cavendish, who runs the Casa Alitas shelter in Tucson, said federal authorities have told her that the logistics of returning migrants to Mexico are more difficult in Arizona. Nogales, one of the state’s main crossings, is more than an hour’s drive from the nearest immigration court in Tucson, where migrants would be brought from Mexico for hearings, and is in a cramped area with little room to build holding facilities. Yuma, another of the state’s busy crossings, is three hours away from Tucson or Phoenix, which also has an immigration court.

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More than 55,000 migrants, mostly from Central America, have been sent back to Mexico since the administration launched the program in late January. A CBP spokeswoman didn’t respond to requests for comment about how many of them initially crossed in Arizona.

Administration officials have said the turn-back program would ease crowding in congested Border Patrol stations and deter families for whom the ability to await their cases in the U.S. was a draw. They also said it would allow asylum seekers to have their cases heard in weeks or months instead of years.

The expansion of MPP this year, along with greater cooperation from Mexico in blocking migrants from reaching the border, has contributed to dramatic decreases in arrests along the border from a peak of more than 132,000 in May to 36,300 in September, according to administration officials and numbers reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Immigration advocates and lawyers have argued that MPP violates migrants’ due process rights and all but ensures that they will face deportation. Several civil and immigrant rights groups have sued to block the program. A federal appeals court in California has allowed the program to continue while the case is litigated.

Katie Sharar, who works with the aid group Kino Border Initiative, said word is spreading on social media and informal information networks that migrants who cross into Arizona aren’t being returned to Nogales.

Nelson Casique, a Venezuelan migrant, flew to Mexico from Colombia and started his wait to cross the border in Reynosa, across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas. He left after his nephew crossed into the U.S. there a few months ago and was sent back to Mexico with a court date for November. He is hoping he will have better luck by crossing into Arizona.

“Friends told me that in Nogales they aren’t returning people,” he said.

Write to Alicia A. Caldwell at Alicia.Caldwell@wsj.com

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