Many immigrants are willing to risk everything to pursue what the United States has to offer. There is a deeper reason for this…
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The day President Joe Biden’s administration ended a public health measure called Title 42 that blocked many asylum-seekers at the Mexican border during the coronavirus pandemic, Teodoso Vargas was ready to show U.S. officials his scars and photos of his bullet-riddled body.
Instead, he stood frozen with his pregnant wife and 5-year-old son at a Tijuana crossing, mere feet from U.S. soil.
He was unsure of the new rules rolled out with the change and whether taking the next few steps to approach U.S. officials to ask for asylum in person would lead to entry or instead force a return to his native Honduras.
“I can’t go back to my country,” said Mr. Vargas, a long scar snaking down his neck from surgery after being shot nine times in his homeland during a robbery. “Fear is why I don’t want to return. If I can just show the proof I have, I believe the U.S. will let me in.”
Asylum-seekers say joy over the end of the Title 42 public health restriction is turning into anguish with the uncertainty about how the Biden administration’s new rules affect them.
Though the government opened some new avenues for immigration, the fate of many people is largely left to a U.S. government app only used for scheduling an appointment at a port of entry and unable to decipher human suffering or weigh the vulnerability of applicants.
The CBP One app is a key tool in creating a more efficient and orderly system at the border “while cutting out unscrupulous smugglers who profit from vulnerable migrants,” the Department of Homeland Security said in an email to The Associated Press.
But since its rollout in January, the app has been criticized for technical problems. Demand has far outstripped the roughly 1,000 appointments available on the app each day.
As a Honduran man, Mr. Vargas does not qualify for many of the legal pathways Washington has introduced. One program gives up to 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans per month a shot at humanitarian parole if they apply online, have a financial sponsor in the U.S. and arrive by air. Minors traveling alone are exempt from the rules.
Migrants who do not follow the rules, the government has said, could be deported back to their homelands and barred from seeking asylum for five years.
Mr. Vargas said he decided not to risk it. He has been logging onto the app each day at 9 a.m. for the past three months from his rented room in a crime-riddled Tijuana neighborhood. His experience is not unique to him—it is shared by tens of thousands of other asylum-seekers in Mexican border towns.
Immigration lawyer Blaine Bookey said for many on the border “there seems to be no option right now for people to ask for asylum if they don’t have an appointment through the CBP app.” The government has said it does not turn away asylum-seekers but prioritizes people who use the app.
Mr. Bookey’s group, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, is one of the lead plaintiffs, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, challenging some of the new rules in federal court in San Francisco, including a requirement that people first apply for asylum in a country they crossed on the way to the U.S. They are asking the court to allow an asylum request by anyone on U.S. soil.
Texas Republican lawmakers have also sued. Among other things, they argue the CBP One app encourages illegal immigration by dispensing appointments without properly vetting whether applicants have a legal basis to stay.
The Biden administration said new measures, including the app, have helped reduce unlawful immigration by more than 70 percent since Title 42 ended May 11.
More than 79,000 people were admitted under CBP One from its January 12 launch through the end of April. From May 12 to May 19, an average of 1,070 people per day presented themselves at the ports of entry after securing an appointment on the app, the government stated. It did not provide updated figures but said the numbers should grow as the initiative is scaled up.
The administration has also highlighted improvements made in recent weeks. The app can prioritize those who have been trying the longest. Appointments are opened online throughout the day to avoid system overload. People with acute medical conditions or facing imminent threats of murder, rape, kidnapping or other “exceptionally compelling circumstances” can request priority status, but only in person at a port of entry. The app does not allow input of case details.
Still, some asylum-seekers claim to have been turned away at crossings while making requests, lawyers say.
Koral Rivera, who is from Mexico and eight months pregnant, said she has been trying to obtain an appointment through the app for two months. She recently went to a Texas crossing to present her case to U.S. officials but said Mexican immigration agents in Matamoros blocked her and her husband.
“They tell us to try to get an appointment through the app,” said Mrs. Rivera, whose family has been threatened by drug cartel members.
Priscilla Orta, an immigration attorney with Lawyers for Good Government in Brownsville, Texas, said one Honduran woman in the Mexican border city of Reynosa said a man whom she accuses of raping her tracked her down through her phone, which she was using to secure an appointment.
The woman was raped again, said Ms. Orta, who has not been able to reach her since.
“That is harrowing to realize that you’re just going to have to put up with the abuses in Mexico and just kind of continue to take it because if you don’t, then you could forever hurt yourself in the long term,” the lawyer said.
Ms. Orta said she previously could ask U.S. border officials at crossings to prioritize children with cancer, victims of torture and others with extenuating circumstances, and usually they would schedule a meeting. But local officials informed her they no longer have guidance from Washington.
“They do not know what to do with these most extremely vulnerable people,” Ms. Orta said, adding that migrants face tough questions. “Do you risk never qualifying for asylum? Or do you try to wait for an appointment despite the danger?”
Mr. Vargas, a farmer, has no doubt he could prove he and his family fled Honduras out of fear, the first requirement for U.S. entry to start the yearslong legal process for safe refuge. His iPhone is filled with photos of him lying in a hospital bed, tubes snaking out, his swollen face covered in bandages. He has knots of scar tissue on each side of his head from a bullet passing through his right cheek and exiting the left side of his head. Similar scar tissue dots his back and side.
His spirits were up after Title 42 expired and fellow asylum-seekers at a Tijuana shelter left with appointments. Two weeks later, he was dismayed.
“I can’t find enough work here. I’m either going to have to return to Honduras, but I’ll likely be killed, or I don’t know,” he said. “I feel so hopeless.”
With so many harrowing problems and challenges involved with crossing the border, we must ask a fundamental question: Why do migrants want to be in America?
What Immigrants See
Even when Mexico offers refuge, asylum or work visas to migrants, most vow to continue on into the U.S. Clearly the United States has something migrants seek that cannot be obtained anywhere else.
Some see material prosperity. “We can earn more [in the U.S.] and give something to our family. But there [in Honduras] even when we want to give something to our children, we can’t because the little we earn it’s just for food, to pay the house and the light, nothing else,” said Nubia Morazan, 28, of Honduras to AP as she prepared to set out with her husband and two children.
Immigrants see that Americans, although they do have certain economic hardships, are generally not spending almost everything they make on transportation, with little left for food. And they never have to borrow money from gang members who charge exorbitant interest. (For instance, if you are unable to repay $250 to a gangbanger in Honduras, your debt becomes $700 accompanied by death threats.)
Migrants see an overall better quality of life in the United States. They realize that even those who live in “bad” American neighborhoods merely long to move to a better one in the country rather than abandon their citizenship and take off.
Americans are generally unwilling and do not have a need to slog hundreds of miles underneath a baking sun or clamber aboard foul-smelling garbage trucks to travel toward another country.
Clearly, immigrants see the U.S. with different eyes than most Americans. To them, Americans have been blessed with what no other country can claim. Destitute peoples of other nations recognize and are reaching for those blessings—and understandably so.
Even the fact that many Americans are wary of so many thousands of people trying to enter the country at once helps prove that they are holding onto something special. Americans understand they are blessed with stability, wealth and peace to an extent very few other nations have been—and they want to keep these blessings. Some fear losing jobs to immigrants. Some are anxious about threats to their security, comfort and national pride.
Both sides do have a legitimate desire to enjoy such good things. But neither pauses to consider where these blessings originate. Is there a deeper reason that migrants desire these blessings? And what is the real origin of America’s prosperity?
Source of Blessings
The fact that the U.S. rose to become the most powerful and successful nation in history in a relatively short period of time is an anomaly to historians. But most do not realize that this was foretold to occur—millennia ago!
The editor-in-chief of this magazine, David C. Pack, detailed this in his book America and Britain in Prophecy: “The most sought-after destinations for immigration by the oppressed peoples of the world for over a century have been America, Britain and various commonwealth countries. The very mention of these nations became associated with freedom and prosperity!”
The book further explains that these blessings were promised to the descendants of a righteous man who lived thousands of years ago: “Remember God’s promise to Abraham: ‘that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed My voice’ (Gen. 22:17-18).”
It also states: “Abraham’s heirs were to be: (1) A great people, in tremendous strength and numbers—‘as the stars of the skies’; (2) they were to be a source of help to other nations—they would, in type, ‘benefit all the nations of the earth’; and (3) they were to possess the ‘gates of their enemies’—key strategic sea ‘gates,’ which would help establish and fortify world dominance! Through identifying the people receiving these blessings—the descendants of Abraham are discovered!”
Think: A single great, powerful nation with a large population. It benefits other nations around the world rather than crushing or conquering them—no other country has offered more humanitarian assistance than the United States. It controlled crucial trade routes, military strongholds, and natural barriers—the Panama Canal, Guam, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and more.
For further proof that Abraham’s blessed descendants are the peoples of the United States as well as Britain and its Commonwealth nations, read America and Britain in Prophecy. It will also explain how these blessings came to be, and God’s purpose in giving them.
Those who have attempted to enter America during the time of Title 42 and in the uncertain period we are now in after its expiration are striving to attain these unprecedented blessings, all given to the U.S. as a result of God’s promise to one faithful man.
Yet know that God does not intend to leave the rest of the world out on such benefits. The same Bible that foretold what so many immigrants are today seeking also has more to say about how God intends to bless all other nations and end their plight. For more on this, read Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View!.
This article contains information from The Associated Press.