‘Stuck in limbo’: Metered asylum seekers stranded in Mexico

Thousands of migrants on informal waitlists have been in limbo in Mexico for months with no clarity on their fates.

Video Transcript

MANUEL RAPALO: Hundreds of migrant families continue to wait in crowded conditions on the US-Mexico border, for a chance to plead their asylum claims to US officials. Dr. Dolores Burris, an expert in immigration policy, says confusion over cross-border politics could lead to larger numbers of undocumented migrants piling up on the border.

DOLORES PARIS: There are two policies that are worsening the humanitarian situation. One of them is Title 42, which cites health concerns as an excuse to quickly expel people from the United States. The other is the policy to reject and deport migrant families.

MANUEL RAPALO: There's also another non-official policy that seems to be complicating the efforts of asylum seekers. Abigail is from Honduras, and says that she and her four-year-old son crossed into the United States through the Texas border three days ago. But was deported to Tijuana more than 2,000 kilometers from where she was detained.

ABIGAIL: They capture migrants in Texas, and send them to California and then to Tijuana. They trick migrants into getting on a plane saying they will be sent back to their families. But it's a lie. They bring you here instead.

MANUEL RAPALO: Experts warn that it's not only US policies that are hurting migrants and refugees. In response to pressure from the US, Mexico has deployed nearly 9,000 National Guard troops to stem the flow of migrants heading North. Mexico also recently closed its southern border with Guatemala to all nonessential travel.

MANUEL RAPALO: Human rights observers say that while the US and Mexico have pledged to address the root causes of migration from Central America, the policies currently being enforced by both countries are violating the rights of asylum seekers.

MANUEL RAPALO: On Friday, Mexico's president traveled to Ciudad Juárez near the US border, and reiterated his commitment to respecting migrants rights.

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR: We need to care for the protection of human rights. One way to do this, is to promote an orderly flow of migration. Not to open the southern border of our country without considering the risks migrants face on their journeys.

MANUEL RAPALO: As the governments of the US and Mexico try to balance hard line immigration policies with international humanitarian law, more migrants are arriving on the border every day. Each with hopes that an exception will be made, and their asylum cases might finally be heard. Manuel Rapalo, Al Jazeera, on the US-Mexico border.