Since 20 March 2020, the Trump administration and now the Biden administration have ostensibly enforced Title 42 of US health law that prevents noncitizens from entering the U.S. to curb the spread of COVID. However, public health experts “have repeatedly argued that there is no scientific rationale for the policy and that it’s possible to safely process people at the border with the right precautions,” according to Vox. In addition to barring foreign citizens with valid U.S. visas, this policy has allowed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expel over one million asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. These reported numbers include many people who have crossed multiple times in the last year. Those expelled are sent back into potential danger in Mexican border cities or their home countries. At present, the enforcement of Title 42 remains in effect.
In November 2021, the U.S. ports of entry reopened to foreign travellers with documents, but Border Patrol is still expelling asylum seekers and others who attempt to enter through the desert. Indeed, without any legitimate access to entry, these people are increasingly at the mercy and influence of the cartels and other criminal organizations in Mexico. These migrants, many of whom are fleeing violence, are now again experiencing kidnapping, extortion, and abuse.
Statistics and personal observations at the Migrant Resource Center (CRM) in Agua Prieta, Sonora, across the U.S. border from Douglas, Arizona, provide a localized picture of the impact of Title 42 enforcement. In January 2022, 3027 men, 727 women and 25 children entered the CRM to receive water and coffee, food, socks, shoes, hygiene supplies, first aid, information, and transportation to the local shelter. One night a returning migrant said to a volunteer, “You remember me. I was here last week. I’m trying to get to Phoenix.” On many occasions, men who are clearly not migrants try—and sometimes succeed—to enter the CRM to find specific migrants who are willing to go with them. These activities have been relatively consistent for over a year now, showing that Title 42 continues to enable criminal trafficking cartels, placing migrants in increased danger.
- Pray that the U.S. government will halt the enforcement of Title 42 and reopen the ports to asylum seekers.
- Ask for safety for everyone who is travelling in the desert.
- Say a special prayer for the children.
- Work for a time when people can live safe and secure in their home countries.
- Request—for migrants and CRM volunteers alike—protection from members of organized crime.
- Celebrate the generosity of people who have donated in so many ways to support the CRM
- Be thankful for the many Mexican and American volunteers who continue to meet the returning migrants at all hours of the day and night.