Migrants protest at US-Mexico crossing, pleading for asylum

·2-min read

Migrants from central America, Cuba, Haiti and Mexico blocked two lanes of the US-Mexico border crossing in Tijuana, begging President Joe Biden's administration to allow them to apply for asylum in the United States.

Biden has moved to dismantle some of the harshest immigration policies of his predecessor Donald Trump, but the process has been slow and only those who have already applied for asylum are being considered for immediate entry.

Many of those protesting on Tuesday did not meet that condition, but told AFP they still wanted to make their case.

"We ask you with all our heart that you help us, that we be heard," Mexican national Maria Guadalupe Torres said.

Along with around one hundred others, Torres knelt about 20 meters (65 feet) from the entrance to the San Ysidro crossing, where US border agents stood guard.

As if praying, she pleaded: "We want an answer from your president, we want someone to come out and give us an answer."

Under Trump's "Remain in Mexico" program, tens of thousands of non-Mexican asylum seekers -- mostly from Central America -- were sent back over the border pending the outcome of their applications.

Biden's administration moved quickly to start dismantling the policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), and began to let small groups in -- but only those who have already started the process of applying for asylum will be considered for entry.

Honduran Iris Lara told AFP that a year and a half ago she had obtained an appointment to request asylum, "but due to the pandemic they closed and I could no longer continue."

With her husband, her only son and seven other relatives, she arrived in Mexico two years ago, fleeing violence in her home country.

"What I want is to enter (the United States) and to be given the opportunity for my son to study, to move on," she said.

A Haitian who identified himself as Wilson also hopes to be allowed to start his application process.

"We don't have (money) to buy anything, we don't have papers to work. We need Mr. Joe Biden to help us get in," he said.

The protesters are part of a group of about 900 migrants that includes active MPP applicants who have been camping near the border gatehouse for 12 days.