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Faulty U.S. immigration policy erodes human rights at Mexican
May 20,2022   By:Xinhua
Since October 2021, U.S. immigration authorities have detained more than 1.2 million undocumented migrants. They have also refused and expelled many others who seek to enter the country legally based on a faulty immigration regulation, resulting in an overwhelming concentration of migrants in some Mexican border towns.
 
As a result, tens of thousands of migrants stranded in those towns are increasingly exposed to unsafe, unsanitary and unsustainable living conditions.
 
To solve the pressing human rights crisis, experts called on the U.S. government to look beyond the border, especially in a time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
REYNOSA, Mexico, May 19 -- Washington's mishandling of the immigration influx on its southern border is generating a human rights crisis for regional communities. With no way to legally cross into the United States, tens of thousands of migrants continue to live in poor conditions in a number of border towns in Mexico.
 
With already vulnerable migrant systems and weak economies, towns such as Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo in the eastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, are struggling to accommodate the surging undocumented migrants refused or expelled by the United States, leaving those asylum seekers increasingly exposed to unsafe, unsanitary and unsustainable conditions.
 
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A migrant kid walks through tents at a migrant camp in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, May 2, 2022. (Xinhua/Xin Yuewei)
 
To solve the pressing border crisis, experts said, the U.S. government should look beyond the border, take coherent immigration policies and work coordinately with other countries to tackle the roots, especially in a time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
AN UNCERTAIN MIGRATORY JOURNEY
 
After six months of anxiety and uncertainty in the Mexican border town of Reynosa, Rosalina, a Honduran woman who only gave her first name, is still at a crossroads. Should she continue to pursue the goal of entering the United States with her daughter or cut her losses and turn back?
 
Holding back tears and sitting on a makeshift seat of blocks to rest a sore leg, the result of illness and mishaps she has suffered on her migratory journey, she told Xinhua reporters that what drove her this far is the hope to reunite with her husband and two other children who are already living in the United States.
 
Rosalina is among the around 2,000 migrants recently transferred to the city's Senda de Vida migrant shelter after living in a makeshift camp at a square in Reynosa in northern Tamaulipas.
 
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Aerial photo taken on May 2, 2022 shows a migrant camp in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. (Xinhua/Xin Yuewei)
 
She said her country of birth is experiencing a high level of violence and crimes, which has pushed many people to leave. "We left to look for a better life and to be with our family," she said.
 
In all, about 9,000 migrants in Reynosa alone are currently living in shelters specially set up for them, or in makeshift settlements scattered around the city, or simply on the streets, Mayor Carlos Pena told Xinhua.
 
Senda de Vida, located less than 50 meters from the border river Rio Grande, was designed to shelter 600 people. However, due to the waves of Central American migrants heading north and being waylaid by legal procedures, it is critically overcrowded.
 
Since the beginning of the fiscal year 2022, which began in October, U.S. immigration authorities have detained more than 1.2 million undocumented migrants, many of whom risked their lives to cross the Rio Grande, according to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
 
VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
 
Rosalina and others who have been stranded in Reynosa seek to enter the United States legally, but procedures have been delayed or stalled due to Title 42, a Donald Trump-era regulation that allows U.S. immigration authorities to ban migrants from entering the country and quickly expel them to Mexico or their home countries on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
 
The measure has led to an overwhelming concentration of Central American migrants in Reynosa that "greatly impacts" the city's healthcare, economy and crime levels, the mayor said.
 
A large number of migrants trying to find jobs in the United States is straining the capacity of communities along the migrant route to properly protect the rights of migrants, according to Rodolfo Casillas, a professor and researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences.
 
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Migrants wait outside a shelter near the Mexico-U.S. border in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, May 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Xin Yuewei)
 
"Even if there is the greatest willingness to care for and respect human rights in the face of a growing mass of migrants, there is no infrastructure, no personnel, no programs, not enough of everything that should be there in order to do that," said Casillas.
 
He criticized the application of Title 42, especially in the absence of any real reform to promote safe and orderly migration, saying "new mechanisms are not being designed for the transit and reception of the growing flows of migrants."
 
Reynosa is by no means unique. Other Mexican border towns are grappling with the same issue, including Tijuana in the northwestern state of Baja California and Tapachula in the souther Chiapas.
 
Enrique Lucero, director of Attention to Migrants in Tijuana, an official agency responsible for migrant assistance, told Xinhua recently that with the continuous arrival of migrants, the lack of coordination during the implementation of Title 42 has turned the border city into "a bottleneck."
 
A WAY TO TACKLE CRISIS
 
As experts advised, an effective way to reduce the growing immigration and solve the root causes of the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is to make joint efforts to alleviate poverty and offer more opportunities for jobs and education.
 
Immigration laws cannot simply aim for containment, especially that a large population of migrants requires abundant resources, Casillas said, adding that the growth of migration flow is a significant sign of economic slowdown and other issues in their countries of birth.
 
Lucero agreed with the view, saying "major investment" is urgently needed to generate jobs in impoverished communities "to retain future migrants," but the United States "does not seem to be willing" to work with Mexico and other regional governments to make that happen.
 
Another solution would be to make it easier for temporary or seasonal workers to cross the border to meet the need for immigrant labor in the United States.
 
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Photo taken on May 1, 2022 shows a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Texas, the United States. (Photo by Nick Wagner/Xinhua)
 
Recent immigration restrictions, according to U.S. media, have led to a noticeable shortage of labor in sectors that traditionally employ immigrants, such as agriculture, construction and meat packing, sparking a rise in prices not justified by inflation or supply chain problems.
 
According to estimates, the United States has 2 million fewer immigrants than it would have if the migratory flow had maintained its pre-pandemic volume.
 
The U.S. government recently announced Title 42 will no longer be implemented as of May 23, but a federal court in Louisiana has filed a temporary restraining order on the decision to prolong its application indefinitely.
 
For Rosalina, it means she probably won't be able to reunite with her family any time soon to build the kind of life together that they could not in their own country.
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