Hundreds of immigrants have been waiting three weeks at the border crossing in San Ysidro (California) to see their asylum applications processed by CBP, an agency that does not have the capacity to process all petitions.
A spokesman for the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP, for its acronym in English) confirmed to Efe that this agency does not have the capacity to process what they estimate are hundreds of asylum requests received in this port, mostly issued by Mexicans and Central Americans, and among those who count whole families.
“At this time, the facilities at the ports of entry in San Diego are at their maximum capacity.We can not bring more people to our booths to be processed until the individuals who are already in them are transferred,” he explained. the agency in a statement.
Many of these immigrants, who since the last weeks have been waiting outside the border crossing, on the Mexican side, in Tijuana, have preferred to stay in the place and sometimes under an inclement cold.
Personnel of the CBP office in this booth, said that many of them will not be eligible to enter the country.
During fiscal year 2017, between October 2016 and September 2017, more than 31,000 applications filed in the sector of San Diego were rejected and so far this fiscal year has done the same with 2,209 requests and with almost 9,400 made throughout the border strip, according to CBP data.
CBP emphasized that “nobody has been rejected” at the ports of entry and that officers continue to process those who enter the country “as quickly as possible.”
According to the protocols of this agency, immigrants who request asylum are questioned in the facilities of the same booth and if it is determined that they are inadmissible they are placed in the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As CBP frees up space to analyze asylum applications, immigrants are called in groups of ten or thirty. Sometimes they spend hours without being able to receive more immigrants, said a security staff member stationed on the Mexican side.
To facilitate the process, Mexican authorities take immigrants to shelters and thus avoid waiting in the midst of low temperatures, and these are where they are called.
However, many do not trust the system and for fear of losing their place have opted to wait outside the booth, some even from Christmas and although they have been warned by Mexican authorities that they will only be escorted to the international crossing as the arrival order.
A Mexican immigrant, originally from Mexico’s Michoacán and asked to be identified as “Abel,” arrived today at the crossing with his family and says they are willing to wait “whatever is necessary”, because returning home is not an option anymore. that their lives are in danger.
After his son received death threats from members of organized crime, overnight the family put everything necessary in suitcases, such as documents and jackets, and went to the sentry box.
The immigrant waits at the pedestrian crossing while taking care of the place of two other families in their same situation, and who had gone in search of food.
For 16 years Abel has worked seasonally in the United States with work permits, which have already expired, and now he has hope that the government will give him and his wife and child refuge.
“If they do not let me in, I do not know what I’m going to do,” confesses the immigrant dedicated to gardening. “I only know that for Michoacán I do not return,” he added.
Pedro Rios, director of the Committee of American Friends in San Diego, called the situation atypical and an indication that more immigrants could arrive to the border in the near future to seek refuge.
“As far as we know, regularly during this season the numbers of migrants who come crossing are not large numbers, as what has been registered now,” he told Efe.
Mexican authorities believe that this massive arrival is due to the conditions of violence faced by the countries of origin of the immigrants, or that the coyotes make them believe that only by requesting asylum will they have access to the United States.
“It is very unusual that during December there is an increase in migrants seeking asylum and we do not know what impact the elections will have in Mexico,” Ríos added.