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The first group of migrants stranded in Mexico crosses into the US

The first group of 25 migrants who, like tens of thousands more, were stranded for months at the Mexican border while advancing their asylum process in the United States crossed into California as ordered by the president, Joe Biden, in a new move by the Democrat for humanize the country’s immigration policy.

It is about “a group of 25 migrants who belonged to the MPP (Migrant Protection Protocol) program and which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) chose because of their high vulnerability,” leader Alex Mensing told Efe. , of the organization Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

The migrants crossed at approximately 8 a.m. local time (11 a.m. ET) through the San Ysidro port of entry aboard a bus of the International Organization for Migrants (IOM), also a UN agency, added Pedro Ríos. , chairman of the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego.

After crossing the border, the 25 asylum seekers were taken to the US exit of the Peatonal Oeste (PedWest) gate, which, although it was closed due to the pandemic, on this occasion opened the office section to process the entry of migrants.

HUMANITARIAN TREATMENT

Erika Pinheiro, a lawyer for Al Otro Lado, an organization that led a lawsuit against the MPP program, told Efe that they have worked closely with the Biden administration “to ensure that migrants who have been trapped in Mexico through this program are processed. in a safe, orderly and humane way ”.

“Hopefully, this is the first day of a comprehensive campaign to restore asylum processing at the border,” he said.

UNHCR chose 25 very vulnerable people who had open cases in MPP, the program created by Trump two years ago and which had a name as direct as it was forceful: “Stay in Mexico.”

In Mexico they were left at the mercy of the mafias and criminals who took advantage of the fact that these migrants were in a very complicated situation, and many suffered rapes, kidnappings and assaults, according to activists.

For this reason, President Biden suspended that program from the same day he took office, on January 20.

WARM WELCOME

And this Thursday, the lucky 25, still on the Mexican side of the border, underwent medical tests to detect covid-19, one of the requirements established by the Biden Government.

In the United States, a network of at least a hundred organizations called The California Welcoming Task Force awaited them.

When crossing into California, this coalition provides all kinds of assistance to migrants who were in MPP, from temporary accommodation and health checks to legal representation and payment of tickets to places where migrants have relatives and acquaintances who can help them during their stay. in United States.

The migrants’ crossing through the San Ysidro port of entry caught hundreds of migrants by surprise who, since dawn, had gathered on the Mexican side of the Mexican entrance to PedWest, known as “El Chaparral,” in the vain hope of be they the chosen ones.

It is so much yes that the aforementioned group of welcome to California sent people this Friday to distribute flyers among the migrants who congregated on the Mexican side of the border with information that includes the internet address where UNHCR will receive their request to pass to the States. United: https://conecta.acnur.org

Hours before this concern prompted groups of migrants to protest in “El Chaparral” demanding information to request asylum in the United States.

The established procedure is that migrants must enter the online page, fill out a questionnaire, and subsequently UNHCR officials will contact them according to the requirements of open cases in MPP and their situation of vulnerability.

This is the first time since MPP began in January 2019 that migrants seeking asylum and going to the United States are not sent to detention centers, will not have to pay bail for parole, or have to wear electronic shackles .

THE END OF THE CONTROVERSIAL PROGRAM

About a hundred organizations in the San Diego and Tijuana border region launched a campaign in December to demand that Biden end MPP and that migrants be able to pursue their cases in the United States.

And President Biden kept his word, first by paralyzing the program and days later by shutting it down entirely. And now begins the phase in which it is expected that some 25,000 asylum seekers can gradually cross.

The MPP program sent some 69,000 asylum seekers to the Mexican border, of whom, according to the latest count, about 22,000 remained at the Mexican border in December.

Many lost hope after the program’s hiatus due to the pandemic from March last year in a new Trump strategy to seal the border with Mexico.

In this sense, Estela Jiménez, an activist in San Diego and who collaborates with the Youth 2000 shelter, which welcomes migrants in Tijuana (Mexico), warned Efe that there is still “a lot of confusion” among asylum seekers.

“Many have not had a permanent home in these two years and do not have easy access to information on how to resume their cases. This is going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack, and it is possible that a large number will miss the opportunity to present themselves, ”Jiménez lamented.