Unable to enter the country, migrants must decide whether to cross again or give up

An El Paso, Texas, family that crossed over the Rio Grande in search for asylum is suffering the effects of the new border restrictions on credible fear screening

EL PASO, Texas – Diana, her two 5 and 8-year-old children, her father and her teenage brother David arrived at Ciudad Juarez on Tuesday but their eyes were on El Paso, Texas, just across from the Rio Grande border, where they were planning to petition for asylum.

They were exhausted after a 3 month journey from Venezuela. The family asked NPR to not use their last names because they feared speaking out could jeopardize their claim.

This family is feeling the blunt effects of restrictions imposed by President Joe Biden’s executive actions last week restricting most asylum claims at the Southern border.

When the average number of unauthorized crossings exceeds 2500, the president imposes restrictions for seven days. This rule heightens the threshold for credible fear screening, that’s when a person makes the case that they fear for their life if they are returned to their home country.

Like this family, migrants hoping to get into the United States now wrestle with a difficult decision– Attempt to cross into the U.S. illegally and face deportation or staying indefinitely in the Mexican side for if restrictions are lifted.

Diana was not expecting that she wouldn’t be allowed to stay. There is a belief that immigrants are allowed in with a pending court date and no need to show up for the border if they are lying on messaging platforms.

As soon as the family got off the bus in Juarez, in ninety-degree weather the family walked straight to the border to turn themselves in and petition for asylum.

That day was Diana’s 29th birthday, but it went without celebration. The family got food, water and a place to sleep. People from other countries were there too, so close to their intended destination, yet their hopes of crossing were slashed by the newer asylum policy.

Nearly nine months ago, he petitioned asylum through this same border area and got in with a pendant court date to hear his claim, but that was before the new restrictions were in place.

“We made the mistake of crossing illegally,” he says. That is the desperation of a person who fears for the safety of his loved ones, and also of the need for food.

An analysis by the Washington Office on Latin America shows that number goes up after a few months. That is because the root causes of mass migration — like poverty and violence — continue to be there.

The president implemented executive actions that deported thousands of immigrants, including Paty, instead of giving them an opportunity to claim asylum.

Migrants will be subject to at least “a five year bar to reentry and potential criminal prosecution,” according to the rule by the Department of Homeland Security. .

This ban would continue until 14 days after the seven-day average of illegal crossings goes below 1,500. Once the number exceeds 2,500, it can be brought back.

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She’s searching for a miracle in that she can afford to pay for a rare blood disorder treatment for one of her daughters who stayed in her home state. Paty says that she had only one choice, to migrate to the U.S. to save money for her daughter.

At the back of the main dining room, there’s a mural that resembles Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper. But this painting shows Jesus eating with disciples and feeding migrants.

At one of the picnic tables, sitting by herself, is 32-year-old Paty. She and her daughter arrived here from Mexico. Paty asked not to be identified by her full name because she worries about the safety of her family back home.

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