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Border app hinders asylum seekers following Section 42 immigration policy



After five and a half months living in an orphanage abroad with Yuma, Arizona, Soraya Amaya began to despair.

A 22-year-old El Salvadorian woman applied for asylum daily for her family of five using CBP One, a US Customs and Border Protection mobile app launched in January that migrants must now use to obtain humanitarian protection.

It faced rejection every day — since its launch, the app has been plagued by technical glitches and a lack of appointments that keep many migrants from accessing it.

But finally, on Thursday, my husband’s stepfather called with good news.

“We’re leaving,” he told her. “We got it.”

The Amaya experience remains the exception to the rule. Just 1,000 appointments are made through the app daily, but some migrants say they’ve seen fewer disruptions lately and more appointments are being made for those who waited the longest, part of an update promised by the Department of Homeland Security. The application was intended to reduce the number of crossings between ports of entry.

The expiration of Section 42, a policy implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has prevented many asylum seekers from entering the US, has created a dilemma for tens of thousands of US-bound migrants stranded in Mexico. While there have generally been no consequences for multiple Section 42 removals, deportation now can have life-changing ramifications, including being barred from re-entering the United States for years.

Prior to the release of the CBP One app, Amaya and her family once tried to enter the US by introducing themselves to border officials, who detained them for several days and then returned them to Mexico.

But then Section 42 was still in effect, which prohibited migrants from seeking asylum. According to her, during the experiment, a border guard agent threw her family’s documents on the ground and trampled them.

Soraya Amaya spent months trying to get her family one of the 1,000 US asylum appointments available every day through the CBP One mobile app. As they waited, they volunteered to help others at their migrant shelter in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

When she and her family were released, a Mexican aid organization took them to Casa del Migrante, an orphanage in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, which distributed 200 meals a day.

Most migrants can stay there for no more than three days. Amaya’s family made a deal where she managed some of the day-to-day operations of the orphanage in exchange for an unlimited stay.

She became the right hand of director Martin Salgado Ames. Meanwhile, her husband found work at a local ranch. They were sheltered and fed, but their lives were still in limbo.

Back in El Salvador, Amaya and her husband ran a thriving business selling curtido, a popular kale.

“I can’t afford to be wrong.”

— Juan Manuel Torres Leon, 40-year-old chef from Venezuela

Gang threats followed.

At first there was extortion: they were forced to pay 35 dollars a month, then 60 and 100 dollars. Unable to pay their bills and bills, Amaya and her husband decided to inform the police. Efforts proved futile: the extortion was followed by death threats, she said.

They ran off last year with their young son and her husband’s parents, with $105 in their pockets. In Chiapas, Mexico, they were helped by the church. They received humanitarian visas in Mexico and asked for asylum there.

Feeling more secure, Amaya and her 4-year-old son were heading to the playground one day when two men in a white truck tried to kidnap them, she said. The locals helped them escape, but the incident left her wondering if the gang had caught up with her. After all, they saw his graffiti all over the city.

They ran again.

At Casa del Migrante, Amaya spent several months helping other migrants make appointments. A few were lucky, mostly single adults or single mothers with one child.

She began to think, “Why, God, why are we still here?”

Amaya and her family have appointments in the US later this month. The wait, she says, was worth it. But it’s bittersweet: Now the other women at the shelter, all Mexican or Central American, are wondering when their turn will come.

The repeal of Section 42 reopened the possibility for migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, who made up the majority of those expelled under the rule, to reapply for asylum in the US. But for someone from one of these countries it is often difficult to actually get it. Immigration judges argued, for example, that gang violence did not meet the standard of humanitarian protection.

In the orphanage, sparingly decorated with the exception of a shrine to the Virgin Mary, a sign in English offers words of hope: “With God, all things are possible.”

Meanwhile, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Juan Manuel Torres León, a 40-year-old chef from Venezuela, also faced uncertainty about his chances of making an appointment via a mobile app. The post-Title 42 situation is “much more complicated.” He said.

“I can’t afford to make a mistake,” he added.

He and his wife were detained at the border in El Paso last week, he said. His wife was released after receiving a notice to appear in immigration court and planned to fly from El Paso to Miami to reunite with her family. But Torres says that after four days in Border Patrol custody, he was sent back to Juarez Thursday night, in the last few hours of Section 42.

The couple left their two daughters aged 7 and 5 in Venezuela.

“The trip was too dangerous for them,” Torres said, speaking outside a church shelter.

He recalled the grueling passage through the jungles of the Darien Gorge from Colombia to Panama—a record number of migrants passed through the treacherous lane—and the arduous journey from Central America to the US-Mexico border.

Now Torres is stuck in Juarez contemplating his next move. He and other Venezuelans here paid 50 pesos a night, about $2.50, to sleep on the floor of an abandoned building.

He hopes to be interviewed by US immigration authorities through the CBP One app, but as with many others, the process is frustrating. He said that he had been trying to get an appointment for over two months.

“It all seems improvised, completely random,” he said. “A Matter of Luck”

Like many Venezuelans, he does not have a valid passport – the document is expensive and difficult to obtain in this country – making it difficult to apply for temporary legal entry, which is available to some Venezuelans with US sponsors.

“If I try to cross the border and get detained again, I’m afraid I can never be reunited with my wife,” Torres said. “I have to be very careful with my next move, now that Title 42 is over. It all depends on making the right decision now.”

Woman standing near bunk bed

Yusimi Vasquez regrets leaving Cuba with her grandson due to a change in US immigration policy. As Cubans, they must apply for humanitarian parole before traveling to the US. But since they’re currently at a shelter a mile outside of California, they’re hoping to make an appointment through the CBP One app.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

At the Cobina Posada del Migrante in Mexicali, Yusimi Vasquez, 53, lamented the change in US immigration policy. If she had known how difficult it would be to seek asylum, she said, she would not have risked leaving Cuba last Christmas with her 6-year-old grandson.

Cubans, like Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians, can apply for a humanitarian slogan as long as they don’t attempt to travel by land or sea without a permit. US Homeland Security officials will now inform some asylum seekers from those countries who have been arrested by border control that they can voluntarily return to Mexico to apply for parole from their home country.

It’s too late for Vasquez – she’s already a mile from the California border. All she can do is hope she gets an appointment through the CBP One app to plead her case.

Vasquez said she received death threats after her daughter participated in anti-government protests in Cuba in 2021. Her daughter first fled to Mexico, then crossed the Rio Grande and surrendered to the American border guards. She now lives in Florida and, due to the backlog of cases in immigration court, will be filing an asylum claim in 2028.

Vasquez and her grandson had a different experience. According to her, they were kidnapped in Chiapas by a man who locked them in his parents’ house for almost two weeks in an extortion attempt. According to her, the kidnapper’s father eventually took pity on them and let them go. But now my grandson is having panic attacks.

The human rights group Human Rights First documented more than 13,400 violent attacks on asylum seekers stranded in Mexico during President Biden’s first two years in office.

Like other migrants, Vazquez decided to go to Mexicali after learning from social media that the area had more humanitarian aid and fewer people wanting to enter the US than other border cities.

When she arrived late on April 19, two shelters turned her down before the Cobina Posada del Migrante let her in. The shelter is also overcrowded – it has room for 180 people, but 300 remain, director Elizabeth Gallardo said. On Saturday, Gallardo said 20 families — 60 people in total — had received CBP One assignments in the previous two days.

For Vasquez, this is enough to not give up hope.

“First and foremost, I believe in God,” she said. “If it was your turn today, congratulations. Tomorrow will be mine.”

Castillo reported from San Luis Rio Colorado and McDonnell from Ciudad Juarez.

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Turkey holds historic presidential election



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A historic election is underway that will decide whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will continue his two decades in power. Raf Sanchez of NBC News has details on how this election could affect the future of Turkey’s relationship with NATO.

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Election tally shows Turkey’s Erdogan could run in second round of presidential election



ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Voter support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fell below the majority needed for his full re-election as the vote count in Turkey’s national elections nearly wrapped up on Sunday, raising the possibility that the country is heading towards a May 28 presidential election. run away.

With almost 95% of the ballot boxes counted, unofficial results showed Erdogan 49.6% of the vote, according to the state-run Anadolu agency. His main rival, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, scored 44.7% as the gap between them narrowed as the night wore on.

Meanwhile, the opposition news agency Anka reported that when almost all ballots were counted, Erdogan received 49% and Kılıçdaroğlu 45%. Ballots from Turkish citizens who voted from outside the country still have to be added to the vote count and a runoff is not guaranteed, officials said.

If no candidate receives more than half of the votes, the top two candidates compete against each other after two weeks. Turkey’s electoral body, the Supreme Electoral Council, said it was providing numbers to competing political parties “immediately” but would not release the results until the vote count was completed and completed.

Erdogan, 69, has led Turkey as prime minister or president for two decades. Leading up to the election, opinion polls showed that the increasingly authoritarian leader was barely behind his rival. The opposition candidate’s party accused Anadolu of manipulating the results, insisting that the 74-year-old finance official was barely in the lead.

A race that was mainly focused on internal problems such as economics, civil rights and february earthquake which killed more than 50,000 people, it looked like it would be the toughest re-election bid in the Turkish leader’s 20-year rule.

As partial results show otherwise, members of the centre-left pro-secular Republican People’s Party Kilicdaroglu (CHP) said the state news agency was biased in favor of Erodgan.

Ömer Celik, a spokesman for Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party, or AK, in turn accused the opposition of “trying to kill the national will”, saying the state news agency was misrepresenting the results. He called the opposition’s claims “irresponsible”.

While Erdogan hoped to win a five-year term that would take him into his third decade as Turkey’s leader, Kılıçdaroğlu, 74, campaigned promising to return the country to a more democratic path and restore its economy, which had been hit by high inflation. and currency devaluation.

Voters also elected lawmakers to fill Turkey’s 600-seat parliament, which lost much of its legislative power following a referendum to change the country’s system of government to an executive presidential narrow passed in 2017.

With 88% of the ballot boxes counted, Anadolu said Erdogan’s ruling party alliance hovered above 50% and the Kilicdaroglu National Alliance hovered around 35%.

More than 64 million people had the right to vote. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Turkey as a republic, a modern secular state born on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

Voter turnout in Turkey is traditionally high, but since the 2016 coup attempt, the government has cracked down on freedom of expression and assembly. Erdogan blamed the failed coup on supporters of a former ally, the cleric Fethullah Gülen, and launched a wide-ranging crackdown on government officials allegedly linked to Gülen and pro-Kurdish politicians.

on the international levelelections were seen as a test of the ability of the united opposition to remove the leader, who had concentrated almost all state power in his hands and achieved greater influence on world stage.

Erdogan, along with the UN, helped broker a deal with Ukraine and Russia that allowed Ukrainian grain to reach the rest of the world from Black Sea ports despite Russia’s war with Ukraine. The agreement, which is being implemented by the center in Istanbul, is set to expire in a few days, and Turkey held talks last week to keep it.

But Erdogan also put a hold on Sweden’s aspirations to join NATO, while demanding concessionsarguing that the country was too lenient towards the followers of the American cleric and members of pro-Kurdish groups, whom Turkey considers a threat to national security.

Critics argue that the president’s despotic style has caused a painful cost-of-living crisis. According to the latest official statistics, inflation is around 44% compared to a high of 86%. The price of vegetables became the subject of an election campaign by the opposition, which used an onion as a symbol.

In contrast to mainstream economic thinking, Erdogan argues that high interest rates are fueling inflation, and he has several times pressured the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey to lower the main rate.

Erdogan’s government has also faced criticism for its allegedly belated and inadequate response to a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that devastated 11 southern provinces. Careless enforcement of building codes is believed to have exacerbated the casualties and suffering.

In his election campaign, Erdogan used state resources and his dominance over the media to try to win over voters. He accused the opposition of colluding with “terrorists”, of being a “drunkard”, and of defending LGBTQ+ rights, which he says threatens traditional family values ​​in a predominantly Muslim nation.

In an effort to garner support, he increased wages and pensions and subsidized electricity and gas bills, and showed Turkey’s domestic defense and infrastructure projects.

The Kilicdaroglu National Alliance has pledged to return Turkey’s governance system to parliamentary democracy if it wins both the presidential and parliamentary elections. He also promised to restore the independence of the judiciary and the central bank and to abolish suppression of free speech and other forms of retreat from democracy in Turkey.

“We all missed democracy so much. We all missed being together,” Kılıçdaroğlu said after voting at a school in Ankara.

Also running for president was Sinan Ogan, a former academic backed by an anti-immigrant nationalist party. His candidacy was expected to draw potential supporters away from the two main candidates.

At the polling stations, many voters struggled to fold bulky ballots—they featured 24 political parties competing for seats in parliament—and put them in envelopes with their presidential ballots.

Nearly 9 million people were eligible to vote in the 11 provinces hit by the earthquake. About 3 million people left the quake area for other provinces, but only 133,000 people registered to vote in the new locations.

In Diyarbakir, a Kurdish-majority city hit by an earthquake, Ramazan Akcay arrived early at his polling station to cast his vote.

“God grant that these are democratic elections,” he said. “Let it be useful for the sake of our country.”

Bilginsoy reports from Istanbul. Mucahit Ceylan contributed from Diyarbakir, Türkiye.

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