Immigration blues at the US-Mexico border - GulfToday

Immigration blues at the US-Mexico border

Migrants seeking asylum in the US are being searched by an officer at the border of Mexico at Yuma, Arizona. Reuters

Migrants seeking asylum in the US are being searched by an officer at the border of Mexico at Yuma, Arizona. Reuters

Even as the US Supreme Court ruled that Title 42, which was invoked by president Donald Trump in March 2020 in the wake of Covid restricting asylum-seekers from entering the United States, Reuters news agency reported that President Joe Biden administration officials are planning to expel asylum-seekers from specific countries like Cuba, Haitians, Nicaragua and Venezuela and numbers of immigrants being allowed are put in place at the Mexican border. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fought the case in the Supreme Court against a petition by attorneys-general of Republican-ruled states seeking that restrictions should remain. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favour of keeping Title 42, which is a 1944 law invoked by Trump, not allowing people with ‘communicable diseases’ into the country. But the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had said in April this year that it was not necessary any longer. ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said, “We are deeply disappointed for all the desperate asylum-seekers who will continue to suffer because of Title 42, but we will continue fighting to eventually end the policy.”

Biden administration officials revealed that the model adopted for Venezuelan asylum-seekers would apply to Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans. The US has set a quota of 24,000 Venezuelans to enter the country by air on ‘Humanitarian parole’. And at the US-Mexican border, Mexico had agreed to accept Venezuelans expelled by the US along with other Central Americans. According to US officials, the Venezuelans trying to cross into the US from Mexico had dropped from 21,000 in October to 6,200 in November of this year. According to the parole programme, 14,000 Venezuelans had been approved to move to America, and 5,900 of them arrived by November 30. The American officials say that the Venezuelan model is one based on the policy for Ukrainian asylum-seekers after  the war broke out in that country in February this year. On the other hand, the crossings by Cubans and Nicaraguans had increased to 68,000 in November compared to 49,000 in October this year. It appears that according to American government sources there could be a shift in policy towards Cubans and Haitians as well, and it would be later for the Nicaraguans. But there was no certainty as to when it would be done.

Many of the liberal Americans are quite unhappy with the Biden administration’s immigration policy. Though President Biden had liberalised the immigration policy after taking office in January 2021, the number of those crossing from Mexico had increased. According to US immigration officials, 22.2 million migrants had been apprehended in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 which ended on September 30. The plight of the stranded asylum-seekers and immigrants on the Mexico-US border has been quite pathetic in the middle of winter. But Americans on their part do not seem to have a satisfactory response to the humanitarian crisis developing at the border.

The insoluble paradox is that many of the Latin Americans are desperate to migrate to America, illegally when it is not possible to do so legally. Many of them are poor and unskilled and they need to be integrated into the American society, which poses challenges of its own. It is also a fact that America needs the unskilled Latin Americans as many of the European countries need unskilled migrants from African and Asian countries, and the European governments face a similar challenge of integrating the migrants into their societies. These immigrants do contribute to the economies of the host countries, and it would be wrong to assume that they are just a liability and nothing more. Immigration needs to be regulated, and the mutual benefit that is derived by the immigrants and the host countries is to be recognised.

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