Texas

Migrants interview for asylum thousands of miles away via CBP app

McALLEN, TX (Border Report) — While handing out glasses to asylum seekers in northern Mexico over a holiday weekend, a South Carolina professor and migrant advocate was shocked that he saw.

Will McCorkle, 38, assistant professor at the College of Charleston and board member of the South Texas Migrant Rights Group, met with migrants in Reynos and Matamoros, Mexico. US Customs and Border Protection CBP One app.

Some were ordered to report to Tijuana, more than 1,500 miles away. Others received assignments in the ports of Juarez, south of El Paso; Laredo and Piedras Negras, across from Eagle Pass, Texas.

“Many of them were asking, ‘How are we going to get to Tijuana from here and are we safe if we drive all the way through Mexico to do this interview?'” McCorkle told Border Report.

Will McCorkle, a South Carolina professor traveled to Matamoros, Mexico on January 13, 2022 to help asylum seekers. (Photo credit: Practice mercy)

He was among a group of faculty and 15 university students from across the United States who came to serve and distribute glasses and other supplies to asylum seekers this past MLK holiday weekend.

Alma Ruth, director and founder of the religious non-profit Foundation Practice of Mercy, took them south of the border. But she said she didn’t expect to hear so many families asking for help traveling to these Mexican ports.

“Why would we send them to El Paso, to Tijuana, to Eagle Pass? You can’t travel around Mexico like that without a death sentence. Even Mexicans don’t do that. And I know this because I’m from Mexico,” Ruth said.

Ruth and McCorkle’s organization helps vulnerable migrants, such as indigenous women and children, who wait in dangerous Mexican border towns like Reynosa during the asylum process.

Alma Ruth

Since 2021, Ruth and her volunteers have mostly moved from Hidalgo, Texas to Reynosa after the “stay in Mexico” policy was lifted and Section 42 sent back migrants began to gather in the crime-ridden city by the thousands.

But now, she estimates, there are about 7,000 migrants in Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, mostly families from Venezuela. It’s not far from where thousands of people lived for years in a previous camp under the Trump administration’s migrant protection program that forced them to wait in Mexico during the asylum procedure.

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security announced that migrants from four countries: Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba would be sent back south of the border under Section 42 and would have to apply for an asylum interview through the CBP One app.

Up to 30,000 eligible people from these countries will receive humanitarian parole each month, the rest must continue to wait in Mexico and face deportation if they try to cross the border into the United States.

The app was launched on Thursday, but Aaron Reuchlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council says the new plan has been rolled out too quickly and there aren’t enough organizations in northern Mexico to help migrants complete and understand the app. . He says it’s not even offered in Haitian Creole, which is spoken by thousands of asylum seekers living in Reynosa.

“I think the presumption on the part of CBP was that people would just wait and see where meetings were available next time and in their city, rather than traveling,” Reichlin-Melnick said in an interview with Border Report on Wednesday. “I’m not even remotely surprised that this is a convoluted process that probably led to undesirable results.”

Reuchlin-Melnick says he’s not sure whether scheduling an interview requires the user to make an appointment for the next meeting, which could be miles away, or that navigating through the process is complicated and prone to user error.

Border Report asked CBP officials to explain the application process. This story will be updated as information is received.

Ruth says she wants to brainstorm with other nonprofits to help migrants get to cities to make appointments.

That could mean renting buses or other modes of transport, she told Border Report.

“We need to join forces. These people have appointments with CBP in different regions,” Ruth said. “We have to ask what we can do. We read about the Holocaust, we read about the horrors of World War II, the horrors of the Vietnam War, but we ask ourselves, “What can I do now, at this historic time, to save lives?”

Sandra Sanchez can be contacted at [email protected]

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