Venezuelans flood into Juarez despite US Section 42 restrictions

The Migrant Relief Center in Juarez is flooded with South and Central Americans fleeing poverty in search of asylum and a way to America.

Juarez, Mexico (border report) – Enrique Valenzuela enters the reception area of ​​the Juarez Migrant Assistance Center and asks a question of two dozen people sitting there.

“How many of you rode the train to Juarez? Almost everyone in the room, including the children, raises their hands.

“Despite the fact that the United States maintains Section 42 (expulsion), migrants, especially from Venezuela, continue to arrive here from the interior of Mexico. We also received people who were deported from the US […] and the numbers were extraordinary,” said Valenzuela, director of the Chihuahua Population Board, which operates a center on the Mexican side of the Paso del Norte International Bridge.

On October 12, the US stopped accepting asylum applications from Venezuelan citizens crossing the border between ports of entry. They were encouraged to apply online using the CBP One app after acquiring a sponsor in the United States who would take financial responsibility for them. Since then, those who cross the Rio Grande, the border wall, or the southwestern desert without a permit are subject to immediate expulsion.

But the lack of information about the new requirements, combined with the hope that President Biden will “change his mind,” continues to draw thousands of Venezuelans to the Mexican border.

The carpenter’s apprentice said his father and mother crossed the Rio Grande in early 2022 and quickly received humanitarian parole. The family left Venezuela many years ago due to lack of work and the high cost of living. They traveled to the United States from Colombia about a year after Biden took office.

Luis Enrique, Venezuelan migrant

“I am the only one who is still here (in Mexico) waiting for me to cross,” he said.

Luis Enrique visited the Migrant Assistance Center on Friday, only to be told that Juarez’s shelters are nearly full and only accept families with small children. He was given a brochure explaining how Venezuelans can apply for asylum remotely using the CBP One mobile app. He struggled to understand how the process worked and said he still lost his identity papers when he entered the United States.

Venancio, another Venezuelan migrant, sat on a bench near the center on Friday, also struggling to apply for asylum online. “What if my sponsor is already sponsoring someone else? Can he still sponsor me? he asked someone sitting next to him.

Joel Martin Dumas, a Nicaraguan citizen, said he and his family left Central America in December, when the US was still accepting in-person applications from Nicaraguans, Cubans and Haitians. This changed on 6 January as these nationalities were also included in the remote asylum application program.

Brochure with information in Spanish on the CBP One app. (border report)

“I’ve already been sent back, but what should I do but continue?” said Luis Enrique, a 21-year-old Venezuelan who crossed the Rio Grande into El Paso, Texas earlier this week, thinking he could join his parents in New York as soon as he told the border patrol he needed refuge.

“It was a difficult road,” Dumas said. “I was held in Siglo 21 (Mexican detention center for migrants) for two weeks. {…} We had no choice but to leave Nicaragua. No work, hunger. We were hoping to be in Miami this month but found this instead.”

Dumas said he and other family members had a hard time understanding how to use the CBP One app and hoped the Valenzuela staff could help them.

Valenzuela said his office is doing its best to help migrants who have recently arrived in Juarez by passing on official asylum information that U.S. officials have forwarded to Mexican authorities. It is also trying to connect families of migrants and vulnerable migrants to church shelters in Juarez that are not full.

He said the Migrant Assistance Center was accepting 200 to 400 migrants a day, more than a few days before the end of Section 42 removals at the end of December, which may have been delayed until June by the US Supreme Court. The difference, he says, is that migrants face the harsh reality of the limited US border and struggle to find ways to survive in Juarez. In addition, many Venezuelans who were waiting for the end of the 42nd title in December did not leave, and those who have been expelled from the US since then are not leaving either.

“We educate them about the opportunity to apply for asylum here in Mexico and take advantage of local employment opportunities. We provide them with information on what are the official mechanisms for applying for asylum,” he said. “We know that thousands have arrived and thousands are staying here. […] First of all, we strongly advise people not to put themselves and their families at risk by turning to smugglers. We, too, want an orderly and safe migration for them and their families.”

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