With the End of Title 42, Lessons from the Southern Border

Immigration Reform can't wait anymore

Nearly a year ago we wrote, in this very same space, that with or without Title 42, immigrants would continue to risk everything to accomplish their mission of reaching the United States. And while the end of the implementation of this public health measure on May 11 did not produce the chaos that some feared and others wished for, in order to take political advantage of the issue, migrants continue to try to come.

We are talking about a natural and logical displacement that everyone should already assume to be a reality not only on this continent, but worldwide, following fundamental economic circumstances, as well as situations of violence, persecution, and climate disasters. Measures like Title 42—or having the National Guard at the border; or anti-immigrant groups espousing their xenophobic rhetoric—are not insurmountable obstacles for those who are seeking refuge and protection, both for themselves and their families.

But the relative order that has taken place to this day at the southern border could be a response to multiple factors. One of the main ones is, just as disinformation about “open” borders spreads like wildfire, the same occurs with the news that the borderline is not open, and entering without doing so through legal mechanisms leads to severe consequences, including immediate deportation if those who seek asylum cannot demonstrate “credible fear.” That is the reason why many prefer to resort to the CBP One application, with all of its failures, to try to schedule an appointment to request asylum.

It’s time for life to normalize at the most active border on the planet, to begin to see new methods of arrival, even more dangerous ones, like a type of migration ritual that is repeated across time, burdened by the political gamesmanship of the Legislative Branch, which has not been capable of formulating a response to the long-surpassed, urgent need to fix the migration system.

Moreover, the current situation has shown many things, among them that the border has its own life, with or without Title 42; that our migration system is essentially decomposed and obsolete, to the point that the most powerful nation on the planet does not have the capacity or, at any rate, does not want to have the capacity to organize the facilities and personnel needed to process—in a serious and complete way—those who have gambled their lives to arrive at this place.

But what the press reports—especially in Spanish—about the packed shelters on the one hand, and detention centers on the other, is enough to horrify anyone. It’s also evident that the way in which the government has managed this situation, with severe restrictions to asylum laws, has the goal of dissuading others not to try to come.

In a report from BBC, published in La Opinión, a Colombian migrant who crossed the border with his family, with the hope of soliciting asylum, narrates a true horror story about his experience after being denied and then deported to Colombia. The migrant, Felipe, affirms that he never even had the opportunity to present his case.

“In my mind, U.S. culture was different. I thought they took care of women and children, but at no time did I see this reflected in those detention centers. If that is the point of entry, I can’t even imagine the xenophobia that must be alive in other cities. Truly, before the world I can say, this is very serious. It’s a global superpower railroading over the entire world. This has me terrified; I can’t get over it,” said Felipe.

With examples like Felipe, and many others, it’s rather obvious that this is not the best time for immigrants; or, in other words, it’s not the best moment to be poor and need a lot, especially for migrants of color. Full stop. It’s also obvious that the dominant economic system that runs the world needs a profound adjustment. But in order for this to occur, the United States and other powerful nations need to also adjust their values and principles, which unfortunately will not occur in this generation, if we take into account what is happening right now on the migration issue across the whole continent, and the perverse politicization that is run by fear, from those who demonize the migrant and those who makes promises they don’t keep.

Basically, the most recent facts about the end of Title 42 offer us the same view as always, with the U.S. government putting out fires here and there without ever rooting out the real reasons that have brought us to this point. Among them, the lack of truly effective programs to deal with the problems that exist in countries that send the most migrants.

There have also been many regional initiatives that never got off the ground. And, as is already known, the lack of immigration reform that address all needs: a number of work visas that meet the economic needs for labor in various sectors; expediting the process of family petitions, since due to the long wait many opt to come without their papers in order; adjusting the asylum laws, in tune with what is needed; and the development of initiatives that recognize that migration will continue going on under Title 8, whatever the circumstances, and this should be seen as an opportunity—not a crisis to always be resolved with a heavy hand.


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