• July 24th, 2024
  • Wednesday, 09:04:23 PM

Asylum Seekers Waiting in Dangerous Conditions

FAsylum Seekers Waiting in Dangerous Conditions

By Susan Dunlap


Hundreds of available shelter beds in New México are empty while families, including a Honduran mother and her child, seek asylum in the U.S. are forced to wait across the border in Ciudad Juárez, México.


Advocates have said there is a humanitarian crisis happening along the border. The Trump administration’s border policies, which many describe as racist, inflammatory and discriminatory, were implemented early in the COVID-19 pandemic to stop migrants along the southern border from crossing. The administration said the policies were in place to stop the spread of the disease, though the federal government implemented very few restrictions on international flights for international travelers and none for U.S. travelers.


While President Joe Biden has reversed most of Trump’s COVID-19 border policies, he has not ended Title 42, which has kept the border closed for people like Ana Judyth Ayala Delcid, 24, and her two-year-old daughter, who journeyed through perilous conditions from Honduras through México this past spring to seek asylum in the U.S.


Ayala Delcid told NM Political Report, through an interpreter provided by El Calvario Methodist Church shelter in Las Cruces, that she left her home with her young daughter and began the journey across México, despite her fears of how hard it might be, because in two separate incidents, gang members killed her aunt and invaded her house at night. She said she is afraid to return.


Ayala Delcid said that prior to the home invasion, she rented a house in a small town in Honduras and had a job caring for an elderly woman. Now she hopes to provide an education for her daughter in the U.S., which Ayala Delcid said she could not afford to do in Honduras.


Ayala Delcid has a sponsor in Houston, TX, waiting to provide a home for her and her child if she is able to start the asylum process in the U.S. She said she hopes to apply for a restaurant job if she is allowed to seek asylum.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in an emailed statement to NM Political Report that “the unique challenges of the pandemic require additional authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order known as Title 42, to allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to effectively protect both the health and safety of migrants and our communities from the spread of COVID-19. The border is not open, and the vast majority of people are being returned under Title 42.”


U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican who represents New México’s 2nd Congressional District along the border, expressed concern about Title 42 ending. She issued a letter to the CDC and DHS on June 24, stating that she has read that Title 42 could end by July 31 and she has “grave concern.”


But Nayomi Valdez, director of public policy for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New México, said the U.S. has the capability to implement testing and quarantining protocols at the border.


“With the amount of vaccinations available, the fear of COVID-19 really isn’t a good reason to continue Title 42,” Valdez said.


Emma Kahn, detention services coordinator for New México Immigration Law Center, said people waiting in México shelters are susceptible to contracting COVID-19.


“A lot of people are in serious risk [of COVID-19] if put in large shelters in México,” Kahn said.


Once tested and vaccinated, asylum seekers have bed spaces to stay in shelters designed to help them in both El Paso, and in Las Cruces, Deming and Albuquerque, migrant advocates said. Migrant advocates told NM Political Report that there are hundreds of empty bed spaces waiting in shelters in New México that could house asylum seekers after they cross the border.


Pastor George Miller, who runs the El Calvario Methodist Church shelter in Las Cruces, said there could be as many as 600 beds available in shelters designed to host asylum seekers in the state if the Biden administration ended Title 42.


Ayala Delcid and her two-year-old daughter are staying in a shelter in Juárez, México. On the day that Ayala Delcid spoke with NM Political Report in early June, the shelter was without electricity and had to connect to a generator to regain power.


Valdez said that though organizations and shelters are working to support asylum seekers on the México side of the border, the conditions are “much less than ideal.”


“They look like refugee camps you’d expect to see thousands of miles from here, not just on the other side of the border where they are pursuing their right to asylum,” Valdez said.


Nia Rucker, policy counsel and regional manager of the ACLU-NM Las Cruces office, said asylum seekers who are women are often in danger of being raped and extorted in Juárez and called the conditions in México “incredibly difficult.” She said there is also the difficulty of getting a job there.


“It’s not a great safety net for any individual sent to México (by U.S. Border Patrol agents). They’re not Mexican citizens. People stand out. They’re left in a really vulnerable position,” she said.


Who Seeks Asylum and Why


CBP said in its statement to NM Political Report that Transnational Criminal Organizations are a threat to national security and are involved in various forms of smuggling and that they make false promises to people in other countries about coming to the U.S.


But Rucker said that political instability in countries such as Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, partially caused by U.S. policies, are causing people to flee to the U.S.


“There is a long history of U.S. intervention in the Northern Triangle (of Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) coupled with corruption and climate change that have really created dire circumstances that people understandably want to escape from,” Valdez said.


Miller said asylum seekers are often fleeing dangerous violence.


“A lot of times it’s a gang or some type of mafia or group. A lot of girls are recruited for trafficking, prostitution. Boys are recruited for working for gangs or cartels. If they refuse, they just disappear or are shot,” the El Calvario Methodist Church pastor said.


“Sometimes, they have nothing to eat, no clothing, shoes, education, healthcare, it’s broken down. Indigenous people are persecuted and run off the land,” Miller said.


Susan Dunlap is a Reporter with New Mexico Political Report. Read the full article here. This story was originally published by New Mexico Political Report.


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