Adolfo Cardenas remembers being able to reach the US Mexico border in just nine days from Honduras, with his son, via buses and paying $6000 to a smuggler to pass through the checkpoints. However, recently, the father and son had to surrender to the agents at the border and had to wait for an hour or more in Mexicali, a city on the Mexican border.
He states that this was unimaginable and caught him by surprise.
The Trump administration has made a lot of asylum-seekers wait for their hearings in Mexico and this has lead to a fall in the illegal crossings at the borders, the most striking being the one on the border of western Arizona.
Asylum Seekers to wait back in Mexico
The policy of making the asylum seekers wait back in Mexico took effect in the Yuma Sector of the Border Patrol and the arrests went up to 14,000 in May. However, in October, the numbers dropped by 94%.
There have been a lot of reasons behind the swinging of numbers in terms of Illegal crossings in the border of western Arizona. However, Anthony Porvaznik who is the chief of the Yuma Sector, stated that the Migration Protection Protocols are a big deterrent. He also said that the goal of the people was to get into the United States and once this was stopped, they could not move into the United States at all, and this reduced the traffic from this border.
The arrests have increased in the Tucson sector and have made it the second busiest right after the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
Porvaznik has stated that this is due to the lack of policy in this area which was implemented only three months back. Recently, the administration started transporting asylum seekers from the area of Tucson to El Paso, for court and also transporting them to the authorities in Mexico to wait. Of late, however, the buses have been scrapped and the migrants are returned to Mexico and they have to travel to El Paso on their own. Approximately 55000 or more asylum-seekers had been returned to Mexico and had to wait for their hearings till November, which was 10 months post the introduction of the policy in San Diego.
Asylum Seekers are Exposed to a Lot of Violence in the Border Cities
According to the critics, this is quite unfair as the asylum seekers are exposed to a lot of violence in the border cities and it is quite tough to get attorneys in these areas. Various groups including the Union of American Civil Liberties have requested the policy to be put on hold at the time of a legal challenge.
Critics have attained a small victory in individual lawsuits where the San Diego federal judge stated that the asylum-seekers who have been transported from California to Mexico, must have some access to attorneys prior to as well as during the main interviews to understand if they could reside in the US when their cases are being held. Some of the cases are heard in El Paso and San Diego by the immigration judges. Some of the asylum seekers camps in cities in Texas like Brownsville and Laredo and they connect to the judges via video.
In Yuma, there are short-term cells where the asylum-seekers are kept until there are openings for them to return to Mexicali via the nearby California sector. Generally, people must not be held there for 72 hours or more. There are volunteers who visit the shelters in this area and provide bus tickets or even a ride to Tijuana, in addition to hotel rooms before their court appearances.
Though there has been a drop in the illegal crossings in Yuma, there are asylum-seekers who are still signing a waiting list so that they can enter the United States via the official crossing which is in San Luis, Arizona.