Inside a church south of the border from San Diego, California, almost 1,000 people — mostly women and children — are being housed after they entered the country illegally and U.S. immigration officials flew them to southern California before releasing them in Tijuana.
The people staying at Templo Embajadores De Jesús are among hundreds of families, mostly from Honduras and Guatemala, who have been expelled and left stranded in Mexico over the past month.
President Joe Biden announced weeks ago Vice President Kamala Harris would be in charge of the border crisis but neither she nor Biden has visited the border, and a record number of migrants are still pouring into the country after open border policies were put into place following Biden’s inauguration.
The Boston Globe reported on the development, citing Trump put in place the Title 42 public health rule because of the coronavirus pandemic when, in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the rule in place.
The Globe article said, in part:
At least a dozen parents who had just arrived described a dizzying journey after reaching the United States, which was supposed to be the final destination of their onerous trek.
They said they were apprehended and held for days in South Texas, where immigration officers asked for identification documents and took their fingerprints; the officers asked few questions and offered the refugees no chance to talk about their cases. Some said agents told them they were headed to a shelter in San Diego, where they would have an opportunity to call their relatives and stay in the country, but they realized that was not true when they saw Mexican flags waving as they were bused over the border.
The harsh realities for migrant families underscore how little has changed at the US-Mexico border under President Biden, even as he has sought to turn the page on immigration after the Trump administration. Indeed, the situation could worsen if more migrants continue to flee.
“I feel tricked,” a mother from Honduras who brought her three-year-old daughter on the dangerous trek north said.
“They tell us we can’t lie because it is a crime, and yet, they used lies to fool us,” another unidentified woman from northern Honduras said. She is traveling with a two-year-old daughter.
The Globe said it didn’t name the women to protect them.
“The asylum system, in some ways, has been preserved as Trump has left it because we haven’t really seen any tangible changes yet,” Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, executive director of the Central American Resource Center San Francisco, said in the Globe article.
Rather than holding the Biden administration accountable, the Globe blames the migration of almost 19,000 unaccompanied alien children who poured into the U.S. in March on poverty, bad weather, and drug and gang violence in Central America.
“The families were held in South Texas in border processing facilities kept at such frigid temperatures that they are known as ‘hieleras‘ — Spanish for icebox — where the nights were interrupted with cell cleanings, inspections, and instructions from officers to dispose of all of their clothes, medications, and other belongings,” the Globe reported.
The Globe reported the same scenario at Centro Cristiano Pan De Vida, a shelter in Juárez, Mexico, where almost 300 people are sheltered in 15 small houses.
The media outlet interviewed Mayra, a mother with two small children who left Honduras in March hoping to meet up with her husband who had a construction job in North Carolina before he was hospitalized with the coronavirus.
She and a busload of other people were driven back across the border and dropped off in Juárez on April 10.
“We wandered through the streets in search of a church to take us in,” Mayra said.
“People think that there is going to be opportunity here, that Biden is going to help you because, as people say, he is a good president,” a man named Alfredo said in the report. “But once you cross the border, you realize the reality, that this is the place where dreams end and a sadness strikes because of how much children suffer along the way.”
A spokesman from Customs and Border Protection said “the border is not open” when asked about the crisis.
In February, Biden directed several agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, to review the Title 42 expulsions, but no action has taken place.
“We need individuals to wait,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said during a briefing in March. “And I will say that they will wait with a goal in mind, and that is our ability to rebuild, as quickly as possible, a system so that they don’t have to take the dangerous journey and we can enable them to access humanitarian relief from their countries of origin.”
The Globe reported in Embajadores families sleep on mats on the floor or on a bunk bed and parents said children wake up screaming or crying “although on a recent afternoon some were all smiles as they chased each other around the room.”
“I feel traumatized,” an unnamed woman from Honduras said. “I am going to wait here a few days and try to recover before I decide what to do next.”
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