The father, who declined to give his name, said he lost his job and couldn’t feed his family after two hurricanes hit Honduras and Guatemala. The pandemic destroyed an already tattered economy, and organized crime ravaged his neighborhood. Friends told him to seek asylum in the United States: “Now’s the time to go,” they urged, saying President Joe Biden had opened the border. So the man left. The only way to survive, he thought, was to find employment in the United States and send money back home. He and his daughter traveled by bus to the U.S.-Mexican border to seek asylum.
But his friends were wrong: The border is not open.
So on this day in late March, they stood dazed, staring at a cartel-ridden city in a foreign country, without money to return home. “I’m asking God what to do,” the father said, raising his eyes to the sky. A block away at a small public park, about 200 migrants lay on mats fashioned out of filthy blankets and scrunched-up jackets—all homeless and penniless after being expelled within the last several weeks.
When the Trump administration ended, the Biden administration stepped in promising a more compassionate border enforcement. But the reality at the border has not changed much. Though Biden has unwound some of former President Donald Trump’s hard-line border policies—most notably the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), sometimes known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy—he has turned away most migrants by keeping Title 42. While mixed messages prompt new waves of migrants to head for the U.S. border, a backlogged and broken immigration system keeps many of them waiting in border camps or crude U.S. facilities.