US-Mexico border braces for chaos as asylum rules change

Photo Courtesy of Bangkok Post

A surge of people is expected at the United States border with Mexico, as US President Joe Biden acknowledges the situation will be “chaotic for a while.” Title 42 pandemic-era rules, which made claiming asylum at the border nearly impossible, are set to expire in the coming days. This has led tens of thousands of people to gather at border crossing points, eagerly waiting for the moment these restrictions end.

A significant increase in asylum claims is anticipated as thousands have already entered the US through the vast gaps found along the border with Mexico. Texan cities, including El Paso, Brownsville, and Laredo are struggling to cope, already handling hundreds of people originating from countries such as Russia, China, Turkey, and Latin America. The US President admits that readiness for the potential influx of people remains to be seen.

Title 42, implemented during Donald Trump’s presidency, was designed to prevent individuals with Covid from entering the country, though it has primarily functioned as a crude method for the expulsion of migrants. Starting Friday, migrants will have the opportunity to file asylum claims and undergo the legal process that can take years to complete.

The Republican Party has criticized Biden’s border policy, claiming that it simply opens gateways to migrants. Dire predictions suggest more than one million people could arrive within the next three months, putting significant pressure on an already overburdened system. Biden has responded by deploying 1,500 active-duty troops to the border, who are expected to aid border patrol agents with processing applicants.

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With an upcoming presidential election in 18 months, immigration remains a heavily debated issue in the US political landscape. Thus, the current administration is hoping that new rules and additional troops can help manage the surge of migrants. However, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has accused the president of “laying down the welcome mat” while announcing he would send Texas National Guard soldiers to the border to assist in intercepting and repelling migrants attempting to enter Texas illegally, reports Bangkok Post.

El Paso has already seen hundreds of migrants, many from Venezuela, cross into the US and surrender themselves to border patrol agents. These Venezuelan migrants were previously exempt from Title 42 rules and were able to seek asylum. However, they are concerned that after the expiration of these rules, they might find themselves unable to return to their home country and may end up stranded in Mexico, without adequate funds and at the mercy of human traffickers.

Gleidys Losada, a Venezuelan migrant who spent the last four nights outside the Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso, shared her story. “I waited for four months trying to lodge my request but I was left alone. All the people I knew were crossing through the gaps. I was left alone, and I decided I couldn’t wait any longer.” Many other migrants are currently in a similar situation, reliant on charity and dreaming of being able to save enough money to reach the different cities across the US where they might find welcoming friends or families.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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