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CARE: People deserve a fair, safe, and efficient system at the border between Mexico and the United States

The search for asylum and the right to a safe, dignified, and organized treatment for everyone at the border between the United States and Mexico are enshrined in international and federal law that the US government must unequivocally respect. The recent measures to replace Title 42, implemented by the Biden Administration are a threat to these basic rights and do nothing to alleviate the root causes of mobility or the broken United States immigration system.

The new process to apply for asylum is being carried out through a mobile application, the functioning of which is not optimal according to user reports, especially because it assumes that people have access to a cell phone and Wi-Fi connection. Funneling requests through an unreliable app can lead to weeks of delay to even schedule an appointment, which increases the risk that threatens the safety of people under conditions of mobility, since many of them are forced to wait in unsafe and unsanitary circumstances in the overloaded border cities of Mexico. Having an appointment through an app, as a prerequisite for applying for asylum, is contrary to the US and international law, and so are the new policies that limit the eligibility criteria of asylum seekers based on how they crossed the border and how many countries they passed through before arriving in the United States.

The new policies also ignore the reality of people leaving their homes and taking extremely dangerous routes when their basic well-being needs are not met. In summary, these measures perpetuate confusing and burdensome conditions for people looking to defend their rights at the border, and they demonstrate how dysfunctional immigration policies can harm families, children, and others, seeking a safe and dignified life.

To defend people’s right to seek for asylum it is required to have a coherent and efficient system of migration and asylum processing, which should be combined with conditions of in-person reception, as well as long-lasting solutions towards circumstances of mobility that protect the self-determination of the affected population. Additionally, those who face specific risks or challenges due to their age, gender, ethnicity, health, disability, or sexual orientation, need special interventions to ensure that their specific needs are met at reception and processing points.

With a strong protective focus, CARE provides humanitarian assistance across the region to people under conditions of mobility and to vulnerable communities. Once a mother told CARE that she escaped from war-like conditions in her home country and was only looking for a stable job and a future for her children. Her wish is echoed by many who have been forced to leave their homes, including the increasing number of women and girls making that dangerous journey. Cases of gender-based violence continue to reach alarming levels in the region and survivors often have few places to go to. For instance, in 2022, the impunity rate of femicides in Honduras was 95%. “Many women and girls in Honduras are escaping poverty and extreme violence, but even when they leave their homes in search of safe conditions, those same risks persist or even worsen,” says Maite Matheu, Country Director of CARE Honduras.

The current situation is a clear symptom that the migration and asylum system do not work properly, mostly when considering that without a fair, safe, and efficient migration system, everyone under conditions of mobility —including asylum seekers—, is put at risk on a daily basis. At a time when the displacement phenomenon keeps increasing around the world, the improvements in migration systems, along with investments in inclusive economic development, governance, and gender equality, cannot wait.