25 de noviembre de 2020
Hispanic World

Migrants on Mexico-US border hope asylum to be expanded under Biden

By Abraham Pineda Jacome

By Abraham Pineda Jacome

Matamoros, Mexico, Nov 9 (efe-epa).- Migrants who for more than a year have been living in a camp set up in the city of Matamoros along the Mexican side of the Rio Bravo - known in the US as the Rio Grande - are celebrating the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 US presidential election and are now hoping for the overturning of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and the ability to enter the US legally.

The news of President Donald Trump's defeat in the election spread quickly through the improvised camp via word of mouth and WhatsApp groups, and expectations are high that the US stance on migration will change markedly after Biden takes office on Jan. 20, 2021.

The MPP are a US government action whereby certain foreign individuals entering or seeking admission to the US from Mexico - illegally or without proper documentation - may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the US for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay.

"I'm pretty happy, with a lot more hope. Now a new scenario opens up. I think that's going to be the basis for ... more real hope," Orlando Enrique Magallon, a migrant originally from Panama, told EFE on Monday.

The wait has been long for Central Americans and families from assorted countries, who are currently being forced to abide by the "Remain in Mexico" immigration regime imposed by Trump with an eye toward strictly limiting the entry of undocumented migrants.

The controversial MPP have resulted in about 70,000 migrants from different countries being halted at several points along Mexico's northern border to await US court resolutions of their asylum requests.

"There's no guarantee of anything. Nobody has promised anything, but ... we're hoping that the laws" come into effect eliminating the current slow-moving asylum request program, the Panamanian said.

At the start of the program, there were about 3,000 migrants who were waiting in Matamoros for US authorities to rule on their asylum requests.

Over time, however, hundreds of people got tired of waiting and returned to their home countries, while others integrated themselves into Mexican life to one degree or another, if only to earn a little money.

Now, there are about 700 adults and children living along the river dividing Mexico and the US. Nevertheless, the camp provides evidence of the terrible conditions under which thousands of migrants are living in northern Mexico.

That is also the case in Tijuana, where on Sunday afternoon a group of asylum seekers marched through the Matamoros camp celebrating Biden's win.

The marchers pulled a cart along with an effigy figure representing Trump flanked by a person dressed as Death. Behind the cart were dozens of migrants marching in high spirits and a festive mood, overjoyed at seeing a change in the US administration.

"I feel happy knowing that we have a new president who's going to value us because we've been suffering for a long time in the camp. What we're hoping is that he'll help us because we don't want to be here any longer," said Honduran Melina Mejia.

During the election campaign, now-President-Elect Biden said that he will seek to approve immigration reform to help the 11 million undocumented foreigners estimated to be living in the US.

After marching through the camp, the migrants carried the figure representing Trump to the bank of the Rio Bravo outside the camp to set fire to it as a representation of the definitive defeat of a president who pursued a policy that confined them to Mexican territory, where they have faced a huge number of difficulties.

"My asylum request is being appealed. I presented evidence and nothing worked for me. We're hoping that ... this president can get things moving," said Melina while in her hands she displayed a sign with the faces of Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris.

The march was monitored by members of Mexico's National Immigration Institute, supported later by members of the National Guard and the State Police, but the demonstration ended without any incidents.

Denis Flores, from Honduras, has lived in the camp for more than a year awaiting the resolution of his asylum request, and after Biden's win he said that he's hoping for US moves that benefit the migrants.

In that regard, he said he expects there to be more migrant caravans emanating from Central America, which last year were blocked by better control of the matter on the part of Mexico and the Central American countries themselves.

Hurricane Eta, which has wreaked serious destruction and caused dozens of deaths in Central America, along with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has economically paralyzed the nations there, could be some of the reasons why new migrant groups might be ready to set out on the northward trek to look for their little piece of the American Dream.

"I'm almost sure that there are going to be more caravans to the US and especially from my country, Honduras, because our brothers there are devastated," Flores said.

Like the other migrants, Denis hopes that Biden acts in favor of the asylum requests and provides the migrants with the chance to build new lives in the US, something he's been yearning for for more than a year.


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