BROWNSVILLE, Texas (Border Report) — A group of migrant advocates from across the country who came to protest the “Remain in Mexico” policy prior to the pandemic, have returned to the base of the Gateway International Bridge upset about Title 42.
Joshua Rubin, 70, a retired software engineer from Brooklyn, New York, heads this group of sympathizers who arrived during the weekend from places like Chicago and Oklahoma City because they disagree with a federal judge’s ruling on Friday that keeps in place the public health law that allows for the immediate expulsion of asylum-seekers.
“We’re here because Title 42, which is kind of a phony health order that the government’s using to prevent migrants from coming into the country and expelling them when they do, wasn’t lifted as it was supposed to. A court got in the way,” Rubin told Border Report.
He held a sign reading “Déjenlos Pasar” or “Let Them Pass.”
Others held signs reading: “Free them”; “asylum for those yearning to breathe free”; and “Open every door. Welcome all immigrants.”
Perry Kliewer held a sign reading, “End Title 42 and welcome asylum seekers!”
He and his wife, Elizabeth, came from Oklahoma City, and are also volunteering with Team Brownsville, a nonprofit that supplies hygiene items, food and clothing and helps migrants with travel arrangements once they are released by the Department of Homeland Security and legally allowed to remain in the United States.
“Desperation. Loneliness. Despair,” is what Kliewer says he has seen from the migrants. “People who didn’t want to leave home but had to. We see that a lot.”
Kliewer says the war in Ukraine has made the world keenly aware of atrocities committed against those fleeing from one country to another, but he says it doesn’t seem to matter “here on the southern border.”
Rubin says he is most concerned for the children asylum-seekers who come across the border alone.
The Biden administration reports there are over 9,300 unaccompanied migrant children currently in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security.
Unaccompanied youth, excluding Mexican youth, are taken in by the U.S. federal government and sent to detention facilities where federal officials try to pair them with family members and friends living in the United States, or with faith-based organizations that can help them. Mexican youth are sent back to their country.
But Rubin says many of the children are choosing to come alone because their parents know they will be expelled if they try to cross the border while Title 42 remains in place. And this is similar to what happened during the Trump administration under the “Remain in Mexico” policy, formally called Migrant Protection Protocols.
“Under ‘Remain in Mexico, from that bridge right over there people crossed over the bridge, kids crossed over the bridge, sent in the middle of the night with tears in their eyes. That was ‘Remain in Mexico.’ Now we have Title 42 that’s doing the same thing. That’s causing families to break up. That’s a lot of hearts breaking. That’s a lot of families being destroyed. So I’m here to make sure people know it’s still going on. That it’s still a problem and we still have to find a way to open our arms and hearts to people who come to the border to be saved,” Rubin said.
The federal judge in Louisiana at any time could stop the preliminary injunction issued Friday in the lawsuit brought by over 20 states, including Texas, Louisiana and Missouri, which want to continue Title 42.
In March, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Biden administration could expel migrant families, but it cannot send them back to places where they could be persecuted or tortured.
“Which means you can’t send a person into a place where they’re going to get killed or get raped and we know that goes on over here. So the question comes down to who gets to decide what’s really going on over there? Well, I say the people over there should decide. They are running for their lives. They know what it means to get sent back there and to try to hide themselves on the northern border of Mexico,” Rubin said.
Kathy Harrington, a board member with Team Brownsville, which receives and helps the migrants after the City of Brownsville has tested them all for COVID-19, said they were told to expect upwards of 1,000 migrants released per day if Title 42 were lifted.
However, Andrea Rudnik, who heads volunteers for Team Brownsville, says there are still between 250 and 400 migrants released daily even though Title 42 remains in place.
“Prior to the decision to keep it in place we were expecting our numbers to go way up,” Harrington said. “Now I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone is really prepared for this. We all thought it was going to end.”