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Migrants at the U.S. southern border are arriving in historic numbers. Here’s why: NPR

Nature

A migrant family presents their documents to Mexican immigration officers to proceed with their CBP One asylum appointments at the Chaparral pedestrian border in Tijuana, Mexico, to cross into the United States on Thursday.

Carlos A. Moreno for NPR


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Carlos A. Moreno for NPR

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A migrant family presents their documents to Mexican immigration officers to proceed with their CBP One asylum appointments at the Chaparral pedestrian border in Tijuana, Mexico, to cross into the United States on Thursday.

Carlos A. Moreno for NPR

“Katastrofa. Katastrofa.”

A man named Piotr repeats this like a mantra. On a warm fall evening in Tijuana, he is the first in a long line to seek asylum in the United States

“Katastrofa”, he said again, on the verge of tears. It’s the Russian word for disaster. Piotr, a middle-aged man who asked that his last name be withheld to protect relatives back home, left Moscow more than six months ago with his immediate family, his wife and two teenage sons. .

He says the war with Ukraine has made their lives unbearable in Russia and he fears for his sons – military conscription is mandatory there. “Russia is so difficult,” he says. “I can’t describe it. It’s so hard for me. Katastrofa!

Piotr says he and his family first went to Mexico City, where they eked out a living working odd jobs until they got an appointment with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This is the big day. He showed up six hours early. Piotr plans to seek asylum in the United States for himself and his family.

So did dozens of other people who camped in that line all day, waiting for their interview. They are mostly families. There are several maintenance slots throughout the day. These people camp out for the late night round, hoping to be on the other side in the morning, in San Diego.

Over the past year, the southwest border has welcomed historic numbers of migrants. More than 2.4 million people. In recent years, these numbers have broken records. San Diego alone welcomed more than 230,000 people this year. This represents an increase of 30% compared to the previous year.

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Migrants with CBP One asylum appointments at the Chaparral pedestrian border in Tijuana, Mexico, enter the United States on Thursday.

Carlos A. Moreno for NPR


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Carlos A. Moreno for NPR

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Migrants with CBP One asylum appointments at the Chaparral pedestrian border in Tijuana, Mexico, enter the United States on Thursday.

Carlos A. Moreno for NPR

Republicans said this was due to the Biden administration’s weak immigration policies.

The government said it was a symptom of unprecedented displacement of people around the world. Biden has pursued a dual immigration policy: punishing illegal border crossings and expanding legal avenues for applying to enter the United States.

“We can’t stop people from making the trip,” he said. “But we can demand that they come here, and that they come here in an orderly manner, consistent with American law.”

Migrants say long wait for asylum appointment prompts them to cross U.S. border without papers

Tijuana is a normally bustling and noisy city: Banda the music (a style of Mexican music and a type of ensemble that relies heavily on brass and percussion) comes out of restaurants; street vendors shout offers; and drivers stuck in traffic honk their horns in annoyance.

This contrast with the silence of the migrants waiting in line creates a somewhat disturbing feeling. They are tired. They say they want to follow legal routes to enter the United States, but it has been a grueling process.

Many of them tell NPR they waited about six months just to get an interview. This leads to despair. Piotr says that after six months of trying to make ends meet in Mexico, he began to consider simply crossing the border without papers.

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Raijawuar and Rossi Alejandra, from Barinas, Venezuela, hope to reunite with family who live in Florida.

Carlos A. Moreno/NPR


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Raijawuar and Rossi Alejandra, from Barinas, Venezuela, hope to reunite with family who live in Florida.

Carlos A. Moreno/NPR

Another migrant, a young woman named Rossi Alejandra, said she had also thought about this question. As she waits in line, she recalls her life in Venezuela, where she was a first-year medical student. She says harassment from the police and government made daily life impossible. “It’s a dictatorship, pure and simple,” she said.

She left for Mexico, where she lived in shelters while waiting for months for an appointment with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “There were times when I was desperate. A month went by. Two months. And I started thinking… Should I just try to cross the border?”

But she says she knew people who tried that, but were deported and banned from the United States for five years. She says that, for her, being deported to Venezuela would have meant putting her life in danger. She decided it wasn’t worth it.

Migrants and asylum seekers find their lives in the United States increasingly difficult.

Republicans have accused the Biden administration of being too lax on border enforcement and adopting policies that show the world that the United States is wide open to immigration. As presidential campaigns intensify, so do these criticisms. “Biden’s border crisis has wreaked havoc across the United States and put Americans in danger,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Upon inauguration, I will immediately end any open border policies of the Biden administration,” former President Donald Trump recently said at a rally in Iowa.

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Haitian migrants present their documents to Mexican immigration officers to proceed with their CBP One asylum appointments at the Chaparral pedestrian border in Tijuana, Mexico, to cross into the United States last Thursday.

Carlos A. Moreno for NPR


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Carlos A. Moreno for NPR

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Haitian migrants present their documents to Mexican immigration officers to proceed with their CBP One asylum appointments at the Chaparral pedestrian border in Tijuana, Mexico, to cross into the United States last Thursday.

Carlos A. Moreno for NPR

In response, President Biden has moved toward more enforcement. In recent weeks, he announced he would build up to 20 miles of border wall and resumed deportation flights to Venezuela.

“It is critical that Venezuelans understand that those who arrived here after July 31, 2023, are not eligible for such protection,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently warned, “and will be deported if they are not eligible for such protection.” It turns out they don’t have a legal basis to stay.”

At the Tijuana port of entry, there is a sense of enthusiasm among the people waiting in line for their interviews, but also a realization that life for migrants and asylum seekers in the United States is becoming increasingly difficult. more and more difficult.

Standing in the line in Tijuana, a young woman in a blue jacket looks delighted. Wymberly Muñoz was a physiotherapist in Venezuela. His father left for New York before he was born.

“I’ve been imagining this city since I was a child,” she beams. Over the years, his town, Barinas, has been overcome by violence. She recently decided to come to the United States and reunite with her father in New York.

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Wimberly Muñoz, a Venezuelan migrant who received her appointment through CBP One, waited last Wednesday at the Chaparral pedestrian border in Tijuana, Mexico, to cross into the United States.

Carlos A. Moreno for NPR


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Wimberly Muñoz, a Venezuelan migrant who received her appointment through CBP One, waited last Wednesday at the Chaparral pedestrian border in Tijuana, Mexico, to cross into the United States.

Carlos A. Moreno for NPR

She’s excited about being allowed in, but she’s also heard news about New York: The city said it’s at capacity and can no longer offer shelter. Migrants without work permits cannot find jobs.

“Of course it worries me,” Muñoz says. “What awaits me there? Only God knows.”

But like most people here, she believes that ultimately the situation can’t be worse than the situation she’s running from.

Nature

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