With the opening of U.S. immigration processing centers in Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala, it is more certain than ever that these countries will become waiting rooms for asylum seekers seeking U.S. visas.
In Central America, where tens of thousands of people want to enter the U.S. without visas, the “safe move” initiative deployed by Washington expands legal avenues while keeping asylum seekers far from U.S. borders. Trying to. .
The new program follows the termination of Title 42, which allowed U.S. authorities to deport immigrants across the border and deny them the right to claim asylum under rules introduced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It started on May 11th.
Migrants should now look for virtual reservations on the movilidadsegura.org website, which is supported by the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration.
New regional processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala will interview migrants to secure legal passage to the United States, Canada and Spain.
In Costa Rica, the Safe Mobility Office will help Nicaraguans and Venezuelans legally relocate if they have been in the country before June 12.
US officials consider the new plan a success.
A State Department official said it would expand the ways immigrants can legally obtain visas “instead of making dangerous journeys and trying to enter irregularly.”
Immigration from South America (mainly Venezuela and Ecuador) to the United States is increasing through Darien, a dangerous jungle isthmus between Colombia and Panama.
According to a recent United Nations statement, by 2023 more than 100,000 people have crossed the Darien River, a six-fold increase from the same period last year.
– Border –
U.S. officials hope the new processing center will help them determine whether migrants have a legal route to the United States and don’t need to put their lives in the hands of smugglers.
Carlos Sandoval, an academic at the University of Costa Rica, told AFP that the effort was in line with a strategy to move immigration to the south and implement “border controls before physical borders”.
“Mexico is the first border,” Sandoval said. But U.S. officials are “trying to impose border controls on Guatemala, which now extends to the south.”
More than 160,000 people tried to enter the United States from Mexico in March alone, according to the State Department.
– including flow –
Sandoval said three types of migrants flock to Central America on their way to the United States. Some are Central American. People from South America, mainly Venezuela. And finally people from other parts of the world.
“Central America has been and will always be the waiting room,” he said.
Guatemala, Costa Rica and Colombia will be strategic countries to “contain these migrant flows,” said Gabriela Oviedo, Human Mobility Project Coordinator at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). .
– “Transit point” –
The U.S. has offered immigrants to wait for processing in their country of residence, although there is no guarantee that a visa will be issued.
A State Department official said the three countries will “help vulnerable refugees obtain the assistance they need” to obtain legal status on the ground while waiting for “legal passage to other countries, including the United States.” said there was a need.
But in downtown colonial Guatemala City, 23-year-old Venezuelan Diego Berrios is seeking funds to continue his journey north, even though a migration program has begun.
He arrived in Guatemala a few days ago and hopes to reach the U.S.-Mexico border as soon as possible with his wife and two daughters, ages 1 and 8.
“Here in Guatemala, this is just a transit point,” he told AFP.
Oviedo warned that “it is not yet clear” how the processing center will operate and what procedures will be followed.
“We don’t know how long it will take or what will happen to those who are denied regular permits. There is a lot of uncertainty,” she said.
https://www.newsmax.com/us/migrants-border-colombia/2023/06/17/id/1123942 U.S. plan forces immigrants to wait until further away from border