The Biden administration has created an incentive for many Central Americans to break up their families at the U.S. southern border by allowing migrants traveling with a minor to claim asylum, the Wall Street Journal learned from some of the victims of the policy.
“There are few paths for migrants to come legally to the U.S. One way that many use to get in, however, is to arrive with a minor in tow and claim asylum,” David Luhnow, the Latin America editor for the Journal, wrote on Twitter Friday, citing the article.
“That creates an incentive for many in Central America to break up their families,” he added.
There are few paths for migrants to come legally to the U.S. One way that many use to get in, however, is to arrive with a minor in tow and claim asylum. That creates an incentive for many in Central America to break up their families. https://t.co/3kFIpeZKbK via @WSJ
— David Luhnow (@davidluhnow) June 18, 2021
In April, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki defended the Biden policy of admitting migrants into the U.S. if they first separate themselves from their families.
The Journal article deemed what Breitbart News has described as U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorka’s unofficial migration-by-separation policies as the root cause behind migrant families’ decision to separate at the U.S. border, with parents allowing their children to cross alone, believing that will increase their chances of being allowed to stay.
“We had never thought that to dream of living a better life, we would have to do something like this,” Sayda Zelaya, a 22-year-old Honduran migrant mother, told the Journal.
“The Zelayas have done what tens of thousands of others are doing in Central America. They decided that their best chance at a better future was to break up their family,” the Journal reported Friday, noting:
Sayda and Maikol Zelaya knew 9-month-old Jeferson was too young to make the journey north. The parents worried the trip might be too hard on their two daughters, ages 5 and 2. That left Jordi, their rambunctious 4-year-old, always begging to go out fishing with his dad.
The plan was set: Jordi and his father would travel 1,500 miles to the U.S. border by foot, car, bus and truck, drawn by the promise of work in South Carolina. Then they would illegally cross the border, turn themselves over to border patrol and request asylum to stay in the U.S. The rest would stay behind.
Would-be migrants share reports with one another, and a belief that families and children who make it across the border have a better chance of being allowed to stay in the U.S.
Ultimately, Mr. Zelaya and his four-year-old crossed the Rio Grande and turned themselves in to border patrol, who processed them and released them three days later, with a notice to report to an immigration office – not appear before a judge, something the Biden administration is doing with many migrants.
Biden’s decision to exempt unescorted children from the Trump-era pandemic control protocols (Title 42) that allow border authorities to remove migrants quickly has driven some parents to separate from their children and turned them over to unscrupulous smugglers to cross into the U.S. as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs), defined as anyone under 18 without a parent or guardian.
“We thought we had a good chance,” Maryuri Oliva, one of two 17-year-old cousins from Honduras who were allowed into the U.S. as UACs and reunited with their mothers, told the Journal.
President Joe Biden has further loosened the Title 42 policy by allowing some families and single adults to bypass the measure without official guidance on who gets to stay and who does not.
Early this month, NBC News reported that the Biden team’s decisions on granting Title 42 exemptions are akin to the lottery.
“Under Biden, the determination of who stays and who goes has become a lottery with winners and losers,” it noted. “Timing is everything, the merits of an asylum claim often beside the point.”
Most of the Central Americans who claim asylum are economic migrants fleeing violence, making them ineligible. However, getting an asylum hearing could take years due to the immigration court backlog. The Biden administration is offering migrants with pending asylum claims the opportunity to work and petition the federal government to bring their kids to live with them in the U.S.
“The policy has been applied to less than half of family encounters,” the news outlet noted, adding, “The administration also has set up a process for exempting more migrants from Title 42 out of humanitarian concern.”
While claiming that the border is closed, the Biden administration has been allowing more and more migrants into the country, in large part by ending the border security measures implemented by his predecessor.
Biden folks are inviting applicants of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program removed “in absentia” when they missed their asylum hearing to return.
The Biden administration most recently expanded a program to allow Central American economic migrants with pending asylum claims — not just approved claims — and a plethora of other qualifying categories to petition the feds to bring their children to live with them in the U.S.
Ending Title 42 would allow Biden to admit even more migrants amid a record-shattering surge of migrants predominantly from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, together known as the Northern Triangle region.