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When Title 42 is lifted, there are years of backlog of immigration and refugee cases in Tijuana at the border

For more than two years, refugees seeking asylum in the United States have faced Title 42, a Trump-era public health order under which asylum seekers are turned away or deported, citing related concerns to COVID-19.

The policy is part of what has caused confusion and a bottleneck of cases in Mexico, according to immigrant rights organizations like Al Otro Lado.

“We have been in communication with the Biden administration, as well as our partners on the ground, regarding the impact of Title 42 and the lack of information the migrant community has about Title 42,” the official said. director of Al Otro Lado’s border rights project, Nicole Elizabeth Ramos, adding that lack of information makes migrants more vulnerable to organized crime.

According to Customs and Border Protection data, between March 2020 and February 2022, 60% of encounters on the southwest border were “deported” under Title 42.

“Now we see that the administration is going to lift title 42. But they don’t have any plan in place on how they are going to deal with the backlog of people,” Ramos said.

The CDC has confirmed that Title 42 will be lifted on May 23. But many key questions remain, including which cases will be heard first.

After a perilous trip to Tijuana, a Haitian family awaits the end of Title 42

Before the pandemic, the U.S. and Mexican governments maintained a waiting list, Ramos said, adding that the migrant communities they heard about wanted that waiting list honored.

“Migrants expressed that while they felt a first-come, first-served, respecting the initial list was in order, there must be other means of entry for people in truly dire circumstances,” Ramos said.

“We have a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy in place to manage any potential increase in the number of migrants encountered at our border,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

Among other measures, Mayorkas said DHS is increasing its ability to assess asylum claims and “rapidly deport those who are not eligible for protection,” increasing its staff and resources, redeploying more than 600 law enforcement officers order at the border and implementing additional COVID-19 protocols.

However, Title 42 is one of two major politics taking place on the southern border. The other, known as “Stay in Mexico” or MPP, is still in effect.

Although there are some exceptions, it allows border officials to return non-Mexican asylum seekers from Western Hemisphere countries to Mexico while their claims are being processed.

In the meantime, Al Otro Lado is helping refugees from different parts of the world apply for exemptions to Title 42 while it remains in place.

Ramos and others have said the granting of these exemptions is patchy.

“We are letting in a lot of Ukrainians, which is understandable because there is a war going on right now,” she said. “We see CBP processing hundreds of Ukrainian migrants every day while black and brown migrants who have been waiting in some cases for over three years are to stay away and not have their cases heard.”

To meet case demand, the organization is looking for remote and in-person volunteers with a special need for those who speak Spanish, Haitian Creole, Ukrainian or Russian.

“A lot of people accuse asylum seekers of wanting to skip the lines, that they have to do things the legal way. Applying for asylum at a U.S. port of entry at the border is the legal way begin this process of applying for international protection,” Ramos said. . “They’re not exploiting a loophole. It’s spelled out very clearly in our law, which replicates the international human rights law that we accepted after the Holocaust.”

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