Migrants heading north from Central and South American told The Post they will continue their journeys regardless of the US administration’s entry policies.
Thousands of migrants are arriving daily at a huge migrant camp set up in Tapachula, Chiapas, by Mexican border officials.
They are processed and given 45 day visas to be in the country, then say they plan to head north in a bid to reach the US-Mexico border.
Wilfredo Lorenzo Blanco Perez, 37, said he hopes to eventually make it to Chicago, where friends are waiting for him, his aunt Ruth Nohemi Rivas, 42 and their accompanying family.
“My friend told me to hurry up because Title 42 is going to end and there’s gonna be a lot of army members [on the US southern border],” Blanco Perez said.
The family were informed midway through their month-and-a-half long trek to the United States the looming expiration of the pandemic-era measure, but it wasn’t enough to put them off.
“I already crossed so many countries, and maybe it’s getting worse, so I’m quite afraid,” he said.
Blanco Perez said that while he would prefer to cross the border by legal means, but “if there’s no chances, I will try anything to get to the other side once I’m there.”
Blanco Perez spoke from outside a bus depot in Tapachula, where he was waiting for relatives back home in Venezuela to send cash so he and his family could continue their journey.
He said they had been sleeping in the streets since they arrived in Mexico a week ago, and haven’t had a decent meal since.
“We haven’t eaten properly because we don’t have money,” said Blanco Perez, who worked at a supermarket in Venezuela.
Like many migrants, he said his group is making the arduous journey to obtain “the best future for their kids and their family.”
“All for the kids, for a good future,” he said, pointing to his cousin.
“It’s only because the kids — they don’t have much of a future [in Venezuela].”
“We don’t care that much for ourselves but we care for our family,” he said.
Blanco Perez said his family also had to cross the notorious Darien Gap — a lawless area of thick jungle between Colombia and Panama— a journey that lasted four days.
“I don’t know what Hell is like, but it must be similar,” said his aunt, Ruth Nohemi Rivas, 42.
“We saw corpses on the road.”
“A lot of women started their journey pregnant, and they fell or hit themselves because the terrain is bad, and they’ll lose their child,” she said.
“Sometimes [the mothers] died.”
The journey north had also been treacherous for Itzabeth Paola, 18, and her partner, Ivan Jesus Jimenez, 28.
They had been traveling for three and a half months with Paola’s sons Daivan Jesus, 2, and Angel David, 1, facing snakes, mountain lions and crocodiles in the treacherous jungle after leaving Medellín, Colombia.
They also suffered shakedowns from tour guides and corrupt police, leaving them with little money.
They arrived in Tapachula three days ago and received their permits to travel.
Paola said she has an aunt and uncle from Venezuela who recently crossed the border into the United States just two months ago and after everything they had been through they wouldn’t quit now.
“We have a saying, ‘That a lot of fighting has a pay-off,’” she said.
“I’m sure that this is going to be worth it, and life will be much better over in the United States.”
The expiration of Title 42 makes the couple worried, but not enough for them to turn back, even though she says she knows there’s less chance of them making it into the US.
“I heard there’s gonna be a new article, Article 8, and that it’s gonna be worse than the previous one,” said Paola.
“With Title 42, there was the small possibility you could get through, or you get deported,” she added.
“But with 8, there’s no chance.”
But the family will try anyhow, “Because of my family, the kids,” she said.
Pandemic-era policy Title 42 expired on May 11, after which time border agents will process all migrants under Title 8, a decades-old measure which allows illegal border crossers to be deported and penalized for trying to make their way into the US.
What is Title 42 and what does its end mean for US border immigration?
What is Title 42?
Title 42 is a federal health measure enforced by the US Border Patrol. It allows the agency to kick certain migrants out of the US and return them to Mexico. This includes asylum seekers, who under international law have the legal right to make an asylum claim in America.
Currently, migrants who cross the border illegally and who are from Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua or Venezuela are subject to Title 42 and could be sent to Mexico.
How did Title 42 start?
President Donald Trump invoked the law in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue the policy. The Trump administration made the case that keeping migrants out of the country would slow down the spread of infections and maintain the safety of federal agents encountering migrants.
What has happened with Title 42 under Biden?
When President Biden took over, he continued to enforce Title 42 with one important change from his predecessor. Biden said Border Patrol agents were only allowed to expel migrants from certain countries under his direction. That meant migrants seeking asylum from countries like Cuba and Venezuela could still seek asylum if they arrived at the border and stay in the US while their cases were decided in court — unless they had a criminal record.
What is happening with Title 42 now?
Title 42 is supposed to be a health policy, not an immigration law. It will end at 11:59 p.m. May 11, when the Biden administration ends all COVID-19-related policies.
Why is it controversial?
Many have called for the policy’s end, saying it’s illegal and that international law guarantees people the right to seek asylum.
Others, like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, warn that the southern border could see up to 13,000 migrants per day crossing with the intention to stay in the country when the measure ends.
What would the end of Title 42 mean for immigration into the US?
It’s unclear exactly how many people have been expelled under Title 42 because there have been scores of people who have attempted to enter the country numerous times and been rejected again and again, but the US Border Patrol said it made an all-time high of more than 2.3 million arrests at the border in the last fiscal year. Forty percent of people who were expelled from the country were ejected under the rules of Title 42.
The Biden administration has said it will now deny asylum claims by those who don’t take the necessary steps and apply for asylum in the countries they have travelled through before reaching the US.
It will, however, offer the people chance to apply for asylum from other countries and organize paperwork, and allow up to 30,000 people from select counties to come into the US per month.
Anyone who does not follow the criteria but tries to cross the border will be barred from the country for five years.
The administration has also announced plans to establish 100 migration hubs throughout the Western Hemisphere, two of which will be located in Guatemala and Colombia.
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