For decades now, thousands of migrants have traveled from all over Latin America to reach the U.S. and seek refuge, resources, and tools to build a new life for themselves and their families. Since the beginning of Former President Donald Trump’s administration, however, migrants were a target of his border policies, especially during the height of COVID. In response to the pandemic, he reinstated the heavily criticized Title 42, originally launched in 1944, as an alleged cautionary measure to contain the spread of the virus. It gave patrol agents the authority to expel migrants to their home country or the country they were last in, typically Mexico. It’s a policy that President Biden has continued despite criticism and protests. But now, it is set to expire on May 11 along with the end of COVID being considered a public health emergency, and agencies at the border are already seeing a significant increase in the number of migrants at the border. At the beginning of April, there was a recorded 1,700 migrants attempting to enter the country. It’s since become 30,000, many of whom are Venezuelan, the Associated Press reported.
“We’ve been preparing for quite some time and we are ready. What we are expecting is indeed a surge. And what we are doing is planning for different levels of a surge,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said during a press conference at the border, the AP reported.
All across the border, the dangers and hazards that migrants face on their way to the U.S. don’t end once they reach the country. At the end of March, 39 people were killed in a migrant center fire in Ciudad Juarez and just this past weekend, eight migrants died when a man driving an SUV ran them over at a Texas bus stop. In the shelters, there simply aren’t enough resources, food, or funds to go around, placing migrants in horrible conditions without an end in sight. And under Title 42, they’re at risk of deportation even if they have a legal right to seek temporary asylum in the country. Migrants have been expelled from the U.S. more than 2.8 million times since March 2020 under Title 42 authority, AP reported.
Troy Miller, the top official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), recently told Congress they’re preparing for as many as 10,000 migrants to cross the southern border each day after Title 42 ends, CBS News reported. “It’s going to be a messy situation for all involved,” Ariel Ruiz Soto, policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told AZ Central.
The economic and political crises affecting thousands throughout LATAM continue to lead many to seek refuge in the U.S. and the risks remain regardless of the expiration of TItle 42. “People don’t understand the life of a migrant,” 28-year-old Venezuelan mother of three Yessica Aguiño told El Paso Times. “We’ve been through so much; it’s why we don’t trust anyone. We’re going to take the risk.”