Court rejects decision to uphold COVID-19 immigration restrictions

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REYNOSA, Mexico — An appeals court on Friday rejected efforts by conservative-leaning states to keep COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions in place on immigrants seeking asylum, as thousands of migrants filled shelters on Mexicothe border.

The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means the restrictions are set to expire on Wednesday unless new appeals are filed.

Conservative-leaning states were pushing to maintain asylum restrictions put in place in March 2020 by the former president donald trump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The public health rule known as Title 42 let some migrants spend time in Mexico. Migrants have been denied the right to seek asylum under U.S. and international law 2.5 million times since March 2020 on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Immigrant advocates had argued that the United States was essentially abandoning its long-standing history and commitments to provide refuge to people around the world fleeing persecution, and sued to end the use of Title 42. They also argued that the restrictions were Trump’s excuse for restricting migration, and in any case vaccines and other treatments, renders this argument outdated.

Before Title 42 expired, illegal border crossings by single adults plummeted in November, according to a Justice Department court filing released Friday, though it gave no explanation as to why. It also did not take into account families with young children traveling and children traveling alone.

Border towns, including El Paso, Texas, face a daily influx of migrants that the Biden administration expects to increase if asylum restrictions are lifted. The Republican-led states have asked a federal appeals court to keep Title 42 in place beyond Wednesday’s scheduled end. A decision could fall on the wire.

Tijuana, Mexico’s largest border city, has about 5,000 people in more than 30 shelters, Enrique Lucero, the city’s director of migrant affairs, said this week.

In Reynosa, Mexico, near McAllen, Texas, nearly 300 migrants – mostly families – are crammed into the Casa del Migrante, sleeping on bunk beds and even on the floor.

Rose, a 32-year-old Haitian, has been at the shelter for three weeks with her daughter and one-year-old son. Rose, who did not give her last name because she fears it could jeopardize her safety and her attempts to seek asylum, said she learned during her trip about possible changes in policies. Americans. She said she was happy to wait a little longer in Mexico for the lifting of restrictions that were enacted at the start of the pandemic and have become a cornerstone of US border enforcement.

“We are very scared because Haitians are being deported,” said Rose, who fears that any mistake in trying to bring her family to the United States will send her back to Haiti.

Inside Senda de Vida 2, a Reynosa shelter opened by an evangelical Christian pastor when his first reached capacity, around 3,000 migrants live in tents pitched on concrete slabs and rough gravel. Flies swarm everywhere under a scorching sun that beats down even in mid-December.

For the many people fleeing violence in Haiti, Venezuela and elsewhere, these shelters offer at least some security from the cartels that control passage through the Rio Grande and prey on migrants.

In McAllen, around 100 migrants who avoided asylum restrictions rested on floor mats in a large hall run by Catholic Charities on Thursday, waiting to be transported to families and friends across the United States. .

Gloria, a 22-year-old Honduran woman eight months pregnant with her first child, held a printed sheet that read, “Please help me. I don’t speak English.” Gloria also didn’t want her last name used out of fear for her safety. She expresses concerns about navigating the airport alone and traveling to Florida, where she has a knowledge of the family.

Andrea Rudnik, co-founder of an all-volunteer migrant host organization in Brownsville, Texas, across the border from Matamoros, Mexico, worried about having enough winter coats to migrants from warmer climates.

“We don’t have enough supplies,” she said Friday, noting that donations to the Brownsville team are down.

Title 42, which is part of a year 1944 health law, applies to all nationalities but falls unequally on those whom Mexico agrees to take back: Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans and, more recently, Venezuelans, in addition to Mexicans.

According to Friday’s court filing, Border Patrol agents arrested single adults 143,903 times along the Mexican border in November, down 9% from 158,639 times in October and the lowest level since august. Nicaraguans have become the second nationality at the border among single adults after Mexicans, overtaking Cubans.

Venezuelan single adults were arrested 3,513 times by Border Patrol agents in November, up from 14,697 a month earlier, demonstrating the impact of Mexico’s decision on October 1. 12 to accept migrants from the South American country who are deported from the United States

Mexican single adults were checked 43,504 times, down from 56,088 times in October, more than any other nationality. Nicaraguan adults have been arrested 27,369 times, compared to 16,497 previously. Cuban adults have been arrested 24,690 times, compared to 20,744 previously.

In a related development, a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, ruled Thursday that the Biden administration wrongly ended a critical Trump-era policy of keeping asylum seekers in Mexico waiting for hearings in US Immigration Court. The decision had no immediate impact but could prove a longer-term setback for the White House.

The “Remain in Mexico” policy was used to force an estimated 70,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for US hearings after it was introduced in January 2019. Biden suspended the policy on his first day in office, leading to a long and tortured through legal and administrative means. .


Santana reported from Washington. Associated Press reporters Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.


This release fixes illegal November crossings only for single adults, not for all migrants.


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