SAN DIEGO, CA (KGTV) — Several immigrant rights advocates and humanitarian groups called once again for the Biden administration to get rid of Title 42 on Friday.
Under the policy implemented during the Trump era, border authorities could turn away migrants attempting to seek asylum in the U.S., citing public health concerns due to the pandemic.
While talks on ending Title 42 continue, humanitarian groups providing support to migrants say there has been no clear guidance from the government on how to proceed.
“There’s a lot of confusion on the ground, we need more reliable information from the U.S. government as to how and whether Ukrainians, Russians, and other Eastern European nationals can access the asylum system,” said Erika Pinheiro, litigation and policy director for Al Otro Lado.
Pinheiro works with migrants in Tijuana, waiting to seek asylum. She says over the last couple of months, more migrants have arrived at the border.
“Just to give you a sense there were about 30,000 Russians and 10,000 Ukrainians traveling through Mexico in January and February of 2022, which is a little more than twice as many as has entered at the same time the previous year."
According to data from the San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services, they have assisted more than 453 Ukrainian individuals and 1,023 Russian individuals since the beginning of the year. In 2021, the group said it helped 878 Ukrainians and 6,946 Russians.
Pinheiro says this population has been coming through the region for quite some time, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent more citizens on both sides fleeing to the San Diego-Tijuana border in an attempt to seek asylum in the U.S. She also says Al Otro Lado is looking for more volunteers to assist with the migrants.
A memo recently released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, dated March 11, allows border authorities to give Ukrainians exemptions to Title 42 on a case-by-case basis. Allowing them into the U.S. with humanitarian parole for a year, but never mentions Russians or other groups.
Pinheiro said earlier this week, they began witnessing Russians being denied entry.
“Once Ukrainians were issued parole, the Russians haven’t admitted anymore,” she said she observed.
“As of a few days ago, we started seeing anywhere between 20 and 50 Russian nationals as well as people from Belarus sleeping outside the port of entry.”
Margaret Cargioli, the directing attorney for Immigrant Defenders Law Center, called for Title 42 to be removed, saying there have been many racial disparities when exemptions are filed for asylum seekers from different countries, and regularly denied.
“The U.S. must end Title 42 and allow asylum seekers protection to the U.S. legal system,” she said.
“This should not only include asylum seekers from Ukraine but also include the politically oppressed from Russia, Hondurans fleeing unspeakable violence, Haitians fleeing pollical unrest…”