Title 42 expires; here’s the aftermath on Arizona’s border communities

File photo of the U.S./Mexican Border
File photo of the U.S./Mexican Border(Arizona's Family)
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 6:43 AM MST
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YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5/CNN/AP) -- As pandemic-era asylum restrictions ended early Friday, migrants in northern Mexico faced more uncertainties about a new online system for appointments to seek asylum in the U.S.

Early Friday, however, less than 12 hours after the end of Title 42, the border scene in Yuma appeared much quieter. Arizona’s Family crews spotted about 40 migrants being transported using just a handful of busses by the time dawn broke. Federal authorities say about 100, mostly those fleeing from Peru, are expected to be released later in the day, but where they will be housed or sent to remains unclear.

On Thursday, both the mayors of border towns Yuma and Douglas asked for an emergency declaration to be called, as the feds revert back to a decades-old policy known as Title 8. The processing time for Title 8 can be lengthy, posing a steep challenge for authorities facing a high number of border arrests. According to CNN, “the processing time under Title 42 hovered around 30+ minutes because migrants could be quickly expelled, whereas, under Title 8, the process can take over an hour.”

Health care providers say they expect to treat about 2,000 patients a day from those arriving at the border. Many doctors tell Arizona’s Family that there simply isn’t enough of resources to adequately treat everyone. Still, they say, they’ll work with what they have to treat everyone humanly and help as much as possible.

Meantime communities in Tucson are preparing for an influx of migrants to arrive in the southern Arizona city. Busses are expected to transport a number of families and other asylum-seekers from immigration facilities throughout the coming days.

“We’ve been preparing for the lifting of Title 42 for it feels like several years now, because it’s been announced and retracted several different times,” said Teresa Cavendish, Executive Director for Casa Alitas, a non-profit that works with nongovernmental organizations and federal authorities to welcome refugees.

“I think the truth is it is not possible to have enough shelter space for all the folks coming in and that goes across the entirety of our border with Mexico. The need is so vast, the resources are still great but are limited compared to that need,” said Cavendish.

In neighboring states, scenes appeared much more chaotics. Some migrants still waded apprehensively into the Rio Grande, defying officials who shouted for them to turn back, while elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border people hunched over cell phones trying to access an appointment app that may change their future.

In Matamoros, the Mexican city across from Brownsville, Texas, throngs of migrants — some clutching small children — waded across spring river currents, pushed through thickets to confront a border fortified with razor wire. Other migrants settled into shelters in northern Mexico, determined to secure an asylum appointment that can take months to schedule online. On the U.S. side of the river, many surrendered immediately to authorities and hoped to be released while pursuing their cases in backlogged immigration courts, which takes years.