Friday, April 12, 2024

Millions of People Are Leaving their Homes and Migrating to the U.S.

Millions of people are leaving Latin America and migrating toward the U.S. in numbers not seen in decades.

The pandemic, recessions in the region, unemployment rates hitting decades high, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggering a spike in food prices, and violence have led to powerful campaigns encouraging people to migrate to the U.S.

This accumulation of factors means that when Title 42 lifts, the U.S. will be confronted with a graver immigration challenge than when the measure was first imposed.

“You couldn’t come up with a worse set of facts to leave tens of millions of people with no choice but to move,” said Dan Restrepo, President Barack Obama’s top adviser on Latin America. “It’s inevitable that you’d have massive displacement, it really is a perfect storm.”

When Title 42 expires, migrants who enter the country undocumented will have the opportunity for asylum, but qualifying for it won’t be easy. The Biden administration is rolling out new eligibility restrictions, and if the process works as intended, many will still be deported quickly.

In some cases, social media is being used to falsely advertise the coming border rule changes as the opening of the floodgates. On TikTok, posts tagged #titulo42 have been viewed more than 96 million times, with one popular post claiming, “May 11: You cannot be deported. Title 42 has come to an end.”

The United Nations expects as many as 400,000 people to pass through this year, nearly 40 times the yearly average from 2010 through 2020.

William Gutiérrez, a welder and bricklayer from Venezuela, said their station at home had gone from bad to worse. He hadn’t had stable work in years, meals were meager, “and sometimes I stopped eating so they would be able to,” he said, motioning to his children, Ricardo, 5, and Yolayner, 2.

After watching so many friends leave for the United States, they decided to risk the journey. They went because the American economy bounced back quickly from the coronavirus and then got hungry for workers.

American border authorities have in fact been regularly using Title 42 to immediately turn back people who enter the country undocumented, invoking it more than 2.7 million times since March 2020.

But only Mexico agreed to take in expelled migrants, forcing the Biden administration to fly others back to their homelands, which will be a slow process.

“What on paper was in some ways the harshest border policy ever put into effect, like a complete and total ban on entry, never worked like that in practice,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, a Washington-based immigrant advocacy organization.

Since taking office, tMhe Biden administration has allowed some 1.8 million migrants to stay in the country while awaiting asylum hearings, many of whom turned themselves in after crossing the border. Unknown numbers also entered the country undetected.

New York Times