The border is not open
- Any suggestion that the border will be open after the end of Title 42 on May 11 is false. This misinformation is being promoted by anti-immigrant groups that seek to elevate the narrative that the border will be overrun and that the country will be in danger when this measure is lifted.
- According to the Biden administration’s April 27 announcement, new asylum restrictions will be put in place, such as the presumption of ineligibility for asylum for those who do not meet a series of requirements including but not limited to;
- Obtain an appointment to cross the border via the CBP One app;
- Have applied for and been denied asylum or refugee status in a third country en route to the US.
- The lack of necessary information and guidance, along with the technology gaps and language barriers could result in the expedited deportation of individuals deemed ineligible.
- It is likely that when Title 42 is lifted at the border we will see large concentrations of people waiting to apply for asylum, as a result of policies aimed at containing the flow of migration over the last 3 years. This is a policy that has been implemented not only by the United States, but also by Mexico and Central American countries.
- The United States has forced tens of thousands of people to stay on the Mexican side of the border in inhumane conditions where their lives are at risk. These people have the right to come to the border and seek asylum with the hope of finding safety for themselves and their families. The U.S. should seek the best ways to provide protection and support to these people.
Failed containment policy
- The policy of containing migratory flows, with the externalization of U.S. borders to countries such as Mexico, has became more acute since 2014 with the approval of the “Southern Border Plan”. This policy, which was intended to safeguard the lives of migrants, has been a failure. People take routes more dangerous than before , risking their lives, safety and freedom, to reach their destination. In 2022, a record number of people died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
- The United States has wasted large resources on an immigration containment policy that has clearly failed. This effort has not improved the extreme situations that force people to flee their places of origin, including social problems that have been further exacerbated since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Root causes of migration
- The factors that have been forcing people out of countries, in the places such as Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, are not being addressed. There are no serious and responsible efforts to address the root causes of migration.
- The funds granted to countries in the region through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are insufficient. We have yet to see a diplomatic strategy that addresses crucial elements such as strengthening the rule of law, a fundamental part to comprehensively address the root causes. Without adequate funding, it is predictable that migration flows will only increase in the coming years.
- The U.S. government has decided to focus almost exclusively on the promotion of foreign direct investment, as if this isolated action alone could change the current conditions of economic, social, political and cultural exclusion in countries that have been forcing so many of their citizens to migrate.
- Addressing the root causes of migration lacks a genuinely new, comprehensive development plan, with short, medium, and long-term measures that would lead to the transformation of living conditions for the majority of people, so that the current factors of expulsion gradually disappear.
- Social violence continues to be one of the root causes of migration.. In the case of El Salvador, although the government reports a significant reduction in the number of homicides, there are other expressions of violence that are not being addressed, such as femicide and violence against the LGBTQ+ population, in addition to the increase in state violence through the current state of exception that has been in place for more than a year. In Nicaragua, since 2018 there has been an exodus of people fleeing Daniel Ortega’s regime that has become more intense over the last year. In Honduras, social violence continues to plague communities, on top of the attacks and murders of environmental and territorial defenders. In Guatemala, the number of homicides has increased, along with the deterioration of democracy and repression against opposition voices.
- Asylum policies need to be updated to match the current reality of the region. In addition to violence, people in our continent are fleeing the consequences of environmental disasters caused by climate change that disproportionately impact the poorest people. These people are left without livelihoods due to floods, rising temperatures or extreme droughts, and their only option is to migrate to where they have a support network and can find work to keep their families alive. Extreme weather events destroy homes and subsistence agriculture which results in driving families away from their homes. These people deserve protection and it is urgent that policies adapt to the conditions and factors that drive people out by creating options for people impacted by climate change.
Migrants are a blessing (or a net benefit)
- The anti-immigrant narrative promotes the false idea that migrants are an economic burden on destination countries. There is no solid evidence to support this assertion, not in the United States or in other nations. On the contrary, the evidence shows that, from both a taxation and wealth generation standpoint, migrants are a value-add to host countries. In the U.S., migrants contributed more than $330.7 billion in federal taxes in 2019 and more than $492 billion in total taxes (including state, city and excise taxes).
- The United States is one of the richest countries in the world thanks to the labor force of migrants. It is reprehensible that as one of the most powerful countries in the world, it continues to promote policies that violate the human rights of migrants and prevents them from seeking protection and prosperity.
- The Biden administration can protect migrants already in the country through humanitarian programs such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Congress must update outdated immigration policy to allow people who have been living and contributing to the country for decades to apply for permanent residency visas. At the same time, the United States has the ability to open its doors to people who are at the border seeking protection through programs that allow them to integrate into the community where they wish to settle and obtain work authorization quickly to help them become self-sustaining and improve living conditions for their families back home.
- U.S. society has been the victim of a consistent campaign to promote hatred against migrants. This campaign was spawned more than four decades ago by extremist political forces motivated by xenophobia and white supremacist racism. Undoubtedly, U.S. society faces serious threats such as economic inequality, the exclusion of millions of people from health care systems that, even for those who have it, are increasingly expensive and of poorer quality, the growing pattern of murders perpetrated against groups of people, among other issues. These are some of the threats that should be tackled, instead of using migrants as a distraction factor.