Emotions were on the rise from the first minute of Thursday, when the process for making appointments was opened through an application called CBP One.
“No one has slept, no one, but here we are going forward, fighting to be able to complete the process (…) We want to be in the United States, mainly because I have my family there,” Henry Moreno, 60, told AFP enthusiastically. , who left Venezuela with her children Grecia, 20, and Moisés, 28, and their dog Chonero.
“What do they tell you in the mail?” “I got it too,” the Venezuelans who applied to the program, arranged by the governments of the United States and Mexico, commented among themselves.
In the Matamoros camp (Tamaulipas state and border with Brownsville, Texas) hundreds of people, mainly Venezuelans and Haitians, eagerly sought to enter their data into the App.
It is estimated that some 7,000 people remain stranded in this city in precarious conditions and enduring the low winter temperatures.
The first appointments were scheduled for January 18.
“The Only Hope”
Through this procedure, migrants can request an interview with US authorities to authorize their entry, by land, for humanitarian reasons.
This is an exception to Title 42, a rule that blocks access for people without a visa to prevent COVID-19, but which in practice became an anti-immigration measure.
This process, for migrants stranded at the border, was announced on January 5 by the White House along with another that will allow the monthly entry of up to 30,000 Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians.
Those who apply to the quota of 30,000 places must enter by plane, from their countries of origin or from wherever they are, in addition to passing a criminal record investigation, having a sponsor in the United States that provides financial support and being vaccinated.
But hope does not come without difficulties.
Junior Graterol and Javier Bello, Venezuelans aged 30 and 31 respectively, obtained interviews with the application for the end of January in an office near Tijuana (northwest).
The problem: both are in Ciudad Juárez, a neighbor of El Paso (Texas), almost 1,200 kilometers from the place of the appointment, without permits to travel through Mexican territory or money to pay for the trip.
“I need a permit or something that validates me (…) when I go to that point of my appointment (and the authorities) don’t catch me,” Graterol told AFP. “This is the only hope I have left,” confesses, for his part, Bello.
When announcing the new programs, US President Joe Biden warned that restrictions will also be tightened to prevent illegal entry at the 3,100 km border, which his government first set foot on last Sunday in El Paso, prior to a official visit to Mexico.
In fiscal year 2022 alone, there were 2.3 million arrests and removals, five times more than in 2020, largely due to Title 42.
Thousands of these people remain in Mexican border towns, some for a year, waiting to be allowed to argue that they are fleeing poverty, violence or political persecution. Also, to try to enter on your own.
In the Matamoros camp, built on dusty ground, some stores were adapted as work areas, where the most skilled in computer matters helped their neighbors, friends or relatives in solidarity to make the appointment.
The joy is palpable, but also the nerves for not being able to get an interview with the authorities of the neighboring country.
“They told us that from January 18 to 30 they were going to open those appointments and already some (the application) is not letting them move forward, so it means that the number of appointments that they had contemplated is already there so that they can enter through this port “said Gladys Cañas, president of the NGO Helping them to Triunfar.
This situation forces some to try to find an interview at another port of entry, as happened with Graterol and Bello.
Although the confirmation email he received in English does not guarantee that he will get permission to enter, Henry is not discouraged. He feels that he is already closer to starting to end his hardship.
FUENTE: With information from AFP