SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Migrant advocate Pedro Rios wishes Title 42 had disappeared long ago.
Per a judge’s order, Title 42 is set to go away on Dec. 21, but Rios worries more migrants will be hurt or even die during that five-week span.
Title 42, a health order meant to stop the cross-border spread of COVID-19, has allowed border authorities to expel migrants without allowing them to request asylum.
After the judge’s ruling, the Department of Homeland Security requested an additional five weeks to terminate the program, so it can “carry out its mission to secure the nation’s borders and continue operations in an orderly fashion.”
But Rios says the U.S. government has had enough time to figure this out.
“This is a decision that hopefully in five weeks will be determined to be permanent,” said Rios. “People who seek asylum are facing violence in Mexico, they are being kidnapped, placed in violence because they’re having to wait in Mexico there are people who have died because of Title 42.”
Rios, who is the director of the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, accused Mexico and the United States of colluding to keep the program going.
“They’re flagrantly violating U.S. law and international agreements that allows people the right to seek asylum,” he said. “Title 42 is a racist policy that has a disproportionate impact on Black and brown migrants, the Biden administration should have moved to get rid of it on the first day in office as president.”
When asked if he thinks the end of Title 42 will generate another migration of asylum-seekers to the U.S. he said, “he didn’t think so.”
“People leave their home countries not because of U.S. policy, but rather because they’re facing danger, harm and violence, this will not be something that will incentivize people to try to come to U.S. border,” he said.
As of now, it’s not known what will happen to migrants who have been expelled to Mexican border cities such as Tijuana, where thousands of migrants are currently living on the streets or in shelters.
At one facility, set up primarily to house expelled Venezuelan migrants, there is no more room.
In a matter of weeks, it filled to capacity with 299 migrants, and all but two are Venezuelans. The others are from Jamaica.
Enrique Lucero, director of Tijuana’s Migrant Affairs Office, said 52 migrants stayed at the shelter briefly before departing for cities in Mexico such as Juarez, Matamoros and Mexico City.
“They are apparently trying to get back to the United States hoping for an exemption to Title 42,” Lucero said.