Cubans in Tijuana refuse to let Title 42 take away their American dream

Cubans in Tijuana refuse to let Title 42 take away their American dream

On the night of May 20, Yoel Fanjul Pérez crossed through Yuma in the company of his sister and two nephews. They merged into a hug, they had arrived in Arizona (USA) almost two months after leaving Cuba. “An officer took names, asked for the country of origin and wrote them down on a list,” he tells 14ymedio.

Fanjul was separated from his family upon arrival at a prison. “They put me with people from Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Venezuela and Nicaragua,” says this young man from Nuevitas, Camagüey. They put them on a bus on the 21st and that same day they returned him to “an unknown place.”

Since then, he has remained near the shelter they set up for Ukrainians in the Benito Juárez Sports Unit, in the border state of Tijuana. The cell phone returned to him by the US Border Patrol allows Fanjul to stay in touch with his sister. “They are fine and have already been released.”

Fanjul eats one meal a day, washes himself with the water given to him by those in charge of the sport in a boat and sleeps among cardboard on one side of the makeshift shelter. On Sunday he joined the migrant-led protest vigil at the international bridge in Tijuana, which leads to San Ysidro, USA.

You have heard stories of people who have been 14 months waiting for asylum, others carry six. “What do I do?” he wonders. Her sister tells her not to “go into despair” and reminds her that she has a visitor’s permit for 180 days. It was granted on May 3 in the city of Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala.

On the day of the vigil, as soon as he approached the place where it would take place, he was handed a banner that read: “No more Title 42”, which was supposed to see its end on May 23. Next to her, a Venezuelan from Zulia, named Gabriela, was holding another with the legend: “Defend asylum.”

On May 20, the Louisiana judge, Robert Summerhays, prevented the Administration of President Joe Biden from finalizing Title 42, a rapid deportation measure against undocumented immigrants protected by the pandemic that was imposed in 2020, during the Government of Donald Trump ( 2017-2021).

The Louisiana judge “was imposed by Trump and we are still paying those arrears of his Administration,” he tells 14ymedio the municipal director of Attention to Migrants, Enrique Lucero Vázquez. “We have no choice but to regret and wait for Biden to find another way to receive asylum applications.”

Around 5,000 migrants remain in the 25 shelters in Tijuana, when in 2019 the figure did not reach 3,000. Until the month of April, 1,275 had applied for refuge, according to figures of the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees. “70% of these applicants are likely to stay in the state,” says Lucero. The problem, the official accepts, is that “once Title 42 is eliminated, it does not mean that everyone is going to enter.”

The validity of Title 42 generates despair. Thousands of migrants are stranded. Customs and Border Protection personnel attend to 150 applicants a day for humanitarian reasons, people with medical problems, who have a disability and “serious cases of persecution”.

Jessé, a migrant and, at the same time, collaborates with the Espacio Migrante organization, explained to Efe that the problem he perceives is that once again “a series of problems and risks for migrants are going to come together,” which implies that they envision new possibilities. For your attention.

“Here we live problems that have to do with police arrests for racial profiling, many people who have mental health problems and are not being treated, and in the medical area, many do not have insurance to go to hospitals, which is added to the rental costs that rise when they are people of color,” he stressed.

Eddy and Yunior experienced two returns at the beginning of May. “In Mexico they assaulted us. We are afraid to return to Cuba,” Border Patrol agents are heard saying to avoid being returned across the Tijuana border, in a video posted on social networks.

César, the cousin of these two Cubans, in which they also expressed their fear for the island’s regime. “We want political asylum in the United States,” one of them stated.

Eddy and Yunior were returned twice from the US, after a third attempt they managed to reach Miami.  (Twitter/@cesarqba)

None of the arguments convinced the officers. Eddy and Yunior were returned to Mexico. In the video shared by César, he noted that it was the second return of his cousins ​​”after requesting asylum, without being heard or analyzing their cases.”

There was fear of not knowing if it was possible to cross into the United States for the third time “through Piedras Negras or another place,” he told 14ymedio Cease. “You really didn’t know, it’s all a limbo.” They finally managed to enter and are currently in Miami.

The cities of Piedras Negras and Acuña, in the border state with Texas, are being the access route for migrants to cross the Rio Grande. In recent days it became clear that Border Patrol was overwhelmed before the arrival of hundreds of Cubans, Venezuelans, Colombians, Haitians, Guatemalans and Hondurans.

This Monday, the Republican Governor Greg Abbott went to Eagle Pass and after the aerial tour and being informed of the Mirror Operation that is being carried out in coordination with the Coahuila authorities, he toughened the measures against migrants. He spoke of arrests under “trespassing charges” and one-year sentences for those found guilty of this crime.

Abbott promised harsher sentences to coyotes and drug traffickers. He again spoke of put up more fences with barbed wire in the limits of the Rio Bravo. So far, he said, Texas has sent a total of 45 migrant buses to Washington.

Civil organizations and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Felipe González, warned this Tuesday of the “exponential increase” in militarization against migrants who transit through Mexico to the United States.

While in 2019 there were 8,715 members of the Armed Forces in migratory tasks on the northern and southern borders, the figure more than tripled by April 2022, to more than 28,500, indicated the report “Under the boot” of the Foundation for the Justice and the Democratic Rule of Law (FJEDD).

“There has been an exponential increase in said militarization, especially since the signing of migratory agreements that have been promoted by the United States and accepted, specifically, by Mexico,” said Ana Lorena Delgadillo, director of the FJEDD, when presenting the research.

The report accused the Mexican government of becoming a “military wall against migration,” while the United States has “externalized its border.” The presentation of at least 354,367 migrants before the National Migration Institute (INM) between January 2021 and March of this year was documented. The UN rapporteur stated that “immigration detention should be a last resort,” for which he denounced “a distortion between human rights and security.”

The report also cites that in the last decade more than 70,000 migrants were victims of trafficking and kidnapping in Mexico, based on the Special Report on the Situation of Trafficking and Kidnapping to the detriment of Migrants in Mexico 2011-2020, of the National Human Rights Commission.

Other estimates from the investigation point to around 20,000 migrants being kidnapped each year.


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