EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – El Paso migrant advocates on Tuesday spoke out against a pair of Trump-era immigration programs as the Supreme Court weighed the legality of one – the Migrant Protection Protocols program.
“I am here on behalf of migrants stuck in Juarez. Asylum-seekers are not criminals,” said Marysol Castro, managing attorney for El Paso’s Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services. She traveled to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to share traumatic experiences suffered by her clients while waiting in Mexico to be called for asylum hearings in the United States.
“For decades, they have been welcomed into the United States with dignity. The Trump administration changed that by implementing MPP and Title 42. Both are inhumane and unjust,” she said.
The Biden administration ended MPP in early 2021 but a federal judge forced him to reimplement it. But while Trump ordered some 70,000 asylum-seekers back to Mexico in just over a year, the Biden administration has only returned 3,000 so far and wants the Supreme Court to uphold the Executive’s right to end the program.
Republican officials took the Biden administration to court not just for trying to end MPP, but also for setting a May 23 termination date for Title 42. That public health order for the past two years has allowed border agents to immediately expel newly arrived migrants to prevent cross-border spread of COVID-19. It has also kept U.S. ports of entry off-limits to asylum-seekers.
“There are limited pathways to legal immigration and Title 42 eliminates one of those legal pathways: asylum,” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said on MSNBC.
She blamed Title 42 for inflating migrant apprehension numbers, as those who are expelled attempt to cross the border again rather than go home. Escobar said the inflated numbers give the Republican Party “political talking points.”
“I think the Republicans love the fact that the numbers are inflated. That’s part of why they want to keep Title 42 in place,” she said.
Escobar said the GOP is blaming the Biden administration for the situation at the border, but insists they share blame for repeatedly blocking immigration reform.
“There is no quick and easy solution. You may want that, and members (of the GOP) may be trying to convince you there is a quick and easy solution but there isn’t one,” she said. “There has been a lot of conversation about what the Biden administration should do – and certainly the administration has a responsibility – but it has been decades since Congress has enacted any form of immigration reform.”
Escobar said she hopes to gain the support for those initiatives before the mid-term elections from moderate members of the Republican Party who are retiring.
“I am afraid that after the mid-terms, if we get more far-right extremist members of Congress, finding a shared solution, a collaborative solution, a bipartisan solution, will only be more elusive,” she said.