TIJUANA, Mexico — Reyna has been waiting to come into the United States for over three years in Mexico after coming from El Salvador, but after hearing President Joe Biden promising to halt deportations for 100 days during the 2020 campaign, she wants to get into the U.S. now more than ever.
"That is my desire with the 100 days of no deportations. [Biden] said the people that could not return back their country that they would be given asylum," she told Townhall.
Reyna and her family were among the dozens of migrants at the El Chaparral checkpoint trying to enter the U.S. on Friday as the Biden administration implemented phase one of its plan to let some migrants into the country so they would not have to wait in Mexico for their asylum court dates like they did under the Trump administration's Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the "Remain In Mexico" policy.
Families at the El Chaparral checkpoint were from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and even Haiti.
With the U.S. immigration system now in reverse gear from MPP, confusion was the word of the day south of the border as many of the migrants did not know they could not enter America at that time since the Biden administration is only allowing a small number of migrants who fall under certain categories for the moment. Many thought it would be easier to enter the U.S. with Biden being in office, but it has not panned out that way so far.
"I feel confused, the president says one thing but we are told something different in Mexico," Reyna said.
"The truth is that we are really confused. According to what was come out on the news we do feel that we will have an easier time getting into the U.S. We do not want to go back to Honduras," Fransico, who was also at the checkpoint with his family, told Townhall.
Only 25 migrants were let into the U.S. in the San Diego Sector on Friday after being tested for COVID-19, with plans to let more in over the next two weeks. The White House and the Department of Homeland Security have stated unless migrants are told otherwise, they should not head to the ports of entry because they will not be let into America.
The migrants I spoke with said no one has told them anything and they had not heard the statements to stay away from the ports of entry. Whatever is being said in the U.S. is not being filtered across the border.
"Our main problem is we arrived a year ago and then Coronavirus hit so we have not been able to secure any appointment for our case to be heard so we have been waiting," Fransico explained. "The people who seem to be getting through are those who have a number, who have an appointment in the U.S. so we are here trying to find out how we can get help. There are so many rumors. No one is helping us and no one knows what’s really going on."
Members of the San Diego Rapid Response Network were handing out packets in Spanish at the checkpoint to inform the migrants what was happening with the changes to MPP, which was often the first source of information the migrants had received about the new process.
The migrants, who often had children in tow, said they don't want to go back to their home countries since they are under constant threat from various gangs, like the 18th Street gang.
"The thing is that [the 18th Street gang] would demand a portion of our proceeds from our fruit store. But the store would never have enough profits to provide for us and for them. It was just enough to feed us. If we stayed, they’d take our child," a mother from Honduras told Townhall.
"We would like people in the U.S. to know that Mexico is also another very dangerous country. We are a family with children," Fransico said. "We don’t want to cause any harm. All we want to do is go to work in the U.S. so that our children can have a better future. Sincerely, if we didn’t have children we would just stay here. We want our children to have better opportunities. Here, our children are at risk of also being kidnapped."
The changes to MPP are one of the ways the Biden administration is looking to undo Trump's immigration policies. Biden signed an executive order halting the construction of the new wall system along the southwest border, leaving gaps and partially built sections.