The tightening of immigration policies at the US-Mexico border is driving many people to opt for legal channels to migrate. While irregular crossings have decreased, the underlying causes of this flow threaten to once again overcome the restrictions imposed.
Gustavo Rodriguez, a Venezuelan in Matamoros, Mexico, expresses his desire to enter legally after Washington implemented stricter measures against illegal migration upon the expiration of Title 42, which had been adopted in 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19. While Title 42 resulted in the removal of 2.8 million migrants to Mexico, under Title 8, which remains in effect, they can now be sent back to their countries of origin and are prohibited from seeking asylum. In addition, if arrested, they are barred from re-entering for five years and could face penalties.
Therefore, Rodriguez is not considering crossing the Rio Grande, as thousands of people used to do before Thursday, to turn themselves in to US authorities and apply for protection. Instead, he seeks to enter legally and apply for asylum through the CBP One application, but the application is collapsing despite Washington’s promises to expand the number of daily appointments.
According to Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, the flow of people to the border is decreasing, and so far there have been no confrontations or situations of violence. However, the reduced movement of migrants coincides with Mexico’s decision to stop granting transit documents to migrants, which allowed them to move from southern Mexico to the northern border.
Despite these restrictions, migration does not stop completely. Experts warn that these measures may further violate the migration process and that migration will continue as long as the sending countries do not address the conditions that drive migration. In addition, there is a risk that human traffickers will take advantage of the situation and turn illegal migration into a lucrative business.
In summary, the tightening of migration policies is driving more people to seek legal avenues to migrate, but restrictions will not completely stem the flow of migration as long as the conditions driving migration persist.
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