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World Border Shelters Emptying as Joe Biden Admits 'Vulnerable' Asylum Seekers

08:55  13 june  2021
08:55  13 june  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

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Vice President Kamala Harris may have told migrants, "Do not come," but it appears the message has already been received, as shelters along the border begin to empty out.

a man sitting on a sidewalk: Jesus, 25, and his son Anthony, 5, from Honduras wait outside Gimnasio Kiki Romero, which has been converted into a makeshift migrant shelter, in Ciudad Juarez on April 6, 2021. Jesus and his son crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley, were flown from Brownsville to El Paso, Texas and expelled to Mexico in Ciudad Juarez. © PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images Jesus, 25, and his son Anthony, 5, from Honduras wait outside Gimnasio Kiki Romero, which has been converted into a makeshift migrant shelter, in Ciudad Juarez on April 6, 2021. Jesus and his son crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley, were flown from Brownsville to El Paso, Texas and expelled to Mexico in Ciudad Juarez.

Over the past several months, shelters in Mexico border cities like Tijuana, Nogales, and Ciudad Juárez hosted hundreds of migrants seeking entry to the U.S. These shelters encountered a steady stream of migrants in need, leading them to reach full capacity as resources depleted.

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The Biden administration's recent move allowing "vulnerable" migrants to seek asylum means more people leaving the shelters and seeking entry to the U.S. at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checkpoints. And while the number admitted remains limited to 250 individuals a day, a variety of other factors are also at play.

a group of people walking on a sidewalk: Pedestrian walkway to U.S. Border, San Diego. Alex Rouhandeh © Alex Rouhandeh Pedestrian walkway to U.S. Border, San Diego. Alex Rouhandeh

"There's never one thing at work," Tony Payan, Director of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, told Newsweek. "Those who were waiting in Mexico are being let in, the flow is less, and the deportees are being processed more efficiently."

While Payan said the initial wave was a crisis for government officials, he sees the "learning curve" of responding to the process being overcome. While on a teaching trip to Juárez, Payan told Newsweek the city had become calmer, with fewer migrants on the streets. He attributes part of this to the new handling of deportations. Marisa Garza, deputy director of the Hope Border Institute in the El Paso-Juárez area, noticed this as well.

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Under Title 42, migrants expelled from Texas were dropped off in Juárez, some coming to the area by plane. Garza told Newsweek she witnessed these drop offs, known as lateral transfers, for almost eight weeks, with roughly 100 people coming each day. These individuals joined the stream of migrants who were already making the journey from Southern Mexico and Central America, which forced the shelters to make a hard decision.


Video: Biden taps groups to help pick asylum-seekers to come to US (Associated Press)

"The question became very clear: Do you allow these people to face danger if they're left out in the street, or do you throw your COVID precaution to the wind," Garza told Newsweek. "At that point there wasn't infrastructure for that, but now there's better COVID testing and resources."

A temporary shelter that used to house expelled migrants staying in the city has since closed. Payan said the processing of expelled individuals has picked up to the point where they generally spend one or two nights in the city before making their journey back home.

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On the other end of the border in Tijuana, shelters are experiencing a similar phenomenon.

Dulce Garcia, executive director of Border Angels in San Diego, said lateral transfers to Tijuana also stopped. As a result of this change, hundreds of people no longer find themselves on the streets seeking shelter. One shelter now has capacity to take in 500 people.

In April, Newsweek reported the stories of some of the asylum seekers staying at the El Chaparral migrant encampment near the San Diego-Tijuana border, where at one point more than 2,000 people lived. Garcia told Newsweek that people living in this encampment will eventually make their way to the city's open shelters.

As processing of asylum claims begin to go through, Border Angels remains focused on offering legal aid to those living in the shelters and encampment. However, as fatigue around the migrant situation continues to grow, the security of migrants and those providing legal consultations find themselves at risk.

a group of people sitting on a bench: Children are seen at a pool of water in the El Chaparral migrant camp in Tijuana, a five-minute walk from the U.S. border, on March 30, 2021. Alex Rouhandeh © Alex Rouhandeh Children are seen at a pool of water in the El Chaparral migrant camp in Tijuana, a five-minute walk from the U.S. border, on March 30, 2021. Alex Rouhandeh

Due to "security concerns," Dulce told Newsweek the organization was forced to switch their legal aid to remote consultations. Reuters reported on June 6 that a severed human head was thrown at a voting station in Tijuana. Plastic bags filled with body parts were also found nearby. While the reason for the intimidation tactic remained unconfirmed, the outlet reported violence tends to ramp up as gangs look to gain influence at the municipal level.

The U.S. Is Failing to Protect Pregnant Asylum Seekers | Opinion

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Political officials face pressure to address the encampment. Some shopkeepers near the border say it detracts from the area and aim for its removal. Past threats of violence led the encampment to close its informal kitchen and school. Garcia said the pressure to address the situation could force migrants into the role of unwilling political props. She fears an organized disturbance could break out in the encampment in order to embarrass local politicians.

"There's a lot of people that don't want the encampment or migrants there," Garcia told Newsweek. "We're trying to get people to understand and discourage them from (staying in the encampment), to stay in those shelters, because it's not safe."

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U.S. to admit asylum-seekers who had to wait in Mexico .
The Biden administration has been slowly processing asylum-seekers who were previously required to wait in dangerous border cities and squalid tent camps in Mexico.Asylum-seekers whose cases were terminated will also be eligible for admission starting Wednesday under this phase of the Biden administration's draw down of the Remain-in-Mexico program, which required 70,000 non-Mexican migrants to wait outside the U.S. for their court hearings.

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This is interesting!