May 12, 2023 [Reprinted from Cuba en Resumen]
Yesterday a minute before midnight, Eastern Time in the United States, Title 42 was suspended and replaced by decree 8, which is even more drastic, since its sanctions indicate that any person who tries to enter without a visa will be banned from doing so for five years, by any means.
[Title 42, a policy implemented by the Trump administration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at severely restricting immigration based on references to US “national security” health issues. Editor]
Faced with this ultimatum, tens of thousands of asylum seekers arrived at various points along the border from many Mexican towns and hundreds jumped into the water, even with babies on their shoulders, in an attempt to avoid being caught on the other side of the border, infested by armed troops guarded by barbed wire fences.
Even so, many managed to get through and form lines next to the wall, under intense sun and without food, and the stress of risking their lives and those of their children in the waters of the Rio Bravo, but with very little hope because at the end of the 12 bells of midnight tonight, they fell under the prescriptions of Title 8 and the returns began.
The anguish and desperation was enormous, because the internet applications, supposedly made available to them to connect with the migration centers, collapsed or did not work, and this prompted many to jump into the water.
Unfortunately, many families were left divided, some in Mexican territory because they were unable to get through the barbed wire fences, and others in the U.S., because they were able to evade surveillance and overcome the obstacles.
The counterproductive aspect is that for these cases the uncertainty of their future is much greater, as they lose contact with those who remained in Mexico and with those who are awaiting deportation in the United States due to the new rules applied by President Joe Biden.
His government activated mechanisms to expel, as quickly as possible, those who do not qualify for asylum, which is supposedly the case of all those who managed to pass because Title 8 so specifies.
If any doubts remained, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas took it upon himself to clear them up by warning, at the time of the title change, that “as of tonight, those who arrive at the border without using a legal route will be presumed ineligible for asylum”, and added to the sentence that they may face “possible criminal charges”.
Until now, it has been impossible to know exactly how many people lived these dramatic last hours of Title 42, and the most diverse figures are given, from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 60,000, but it is certain that there were not only from America, but also from Asia and Africa.
Other data indicate that more than 10,000 were detained daily since Tuesday by the U.S. Border Patrol and expelled, but there are no verified numbers.
[Editor’s update: We quote here from the text of a May 12 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit filed in federal court against the Biden administration’s new policy aimed at severely limiting asylum for those who cross the border without authorization. The ACLU brief states:
“After campaigning on a promise to restore our asylum system, the Biden Administration has instead doubled down on its predecessor’s cruel asylum restrictions…. The [governments’] agencies claim that its new Rule or Title 8 merely provides consequences for asylum seekers circumventing lawful pathways. But seeking asylum is a lawful pathway protected by our laws regardless of how one enters the country.”
The ACLU suit continues: “Title 8 operates just as the Trump administration’s prior asylum bans did: Asylum seekers subject to the Rule — all non-Mexicans — are categorically barred unless they satisfy one of the enumerated and limited conditions or exceptions… That’s a simple ban with narrow exemptions, and it turns the asylum process on its head.”]