SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Without much fanfare, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been allowing a few asylum-seekers to enter the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry after providing the migrants with Title 42 exceptions.
Immigration attorney Erika Pinheiro says that since late April, about 350 have been given access north of the border.
“They’ve opened a path for the most vulnerable,” she said. “These are people with serious medical problems or have suffered violence that puts them at immediate risk.”
According to Pinheiro, she and other migrant advocates have been tasked by CBP with selecting migrants with the most pressing cases.
But she stated the numbers pale in comparison with the 1,000 Ukrainians who were being allowed to cross the border almost daily until April 25.
“There’s very few that are being allowed,” she said. “Thank God this path has opened, even though it’s very small we are working with those few migrants.”
Most of the migrants who are getting permission to cross the border have been staying in shelters.
“They’ve been kidnapped, they’ve disappeared and they’ve been threatened,” Mayra Pena said in Spanish when talking about family members in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
Due to the violence and threats, they left last September and arrived in Tijuana just south of San Diego.
On Wednesday, she learned she and her family had been selected to cross the border in the coming days.
“My heart jumped with emotion when I heard,” she said. “When I got the phone call from the lawyer I told my family members and they said, ‘Stop playing around.’ They couldn’t believe it.”
Pena says her family will likely disperse throughout the United States to go live with family and where they can find work.
In her case, she says she’s going to Phoenix, while the others are headed to San Jose, California, and to the state of Washington.
Pinheiro said the migrants who are being granted the exceptions are from throughout Latin America, Haiti, Syria, Russia and other parts of the world.
“I feel so happy,” said Weslyn, who is from Haiti.
He, his wife, and his daughter also just received the nod and have been cleared to cross the border.
In Weslyn’s case, he was given an exception due to his serious medical condition.
“It was extremely difficult, but it proves nothing is impossible,” he said.
Weslyn says he has relatives on the East Coast who have agreed to take them in and help him get medical care.
“We have to give priority to the most vulnerable cases, my hope is that more doors will open soon,” Pinheiro said.
Regarding the processing of Title 42 exceptions at the border, a CBP spokesperson provided this statement:
“The CDC’s Title 42 public health Order remains in place with respect to single adults and family units, and the Department of Homeland Security continues to operate in accordance with that Order to the greatest extent possible. Consistent with the CDC Order, DHS continues to grant Title 42 exceptions to particularly vulnerable individuals of all nationalities for humanitarian reasons. All exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis.”
It’s not clear if these Title 42 exceptions are happening at other ports of entry along the southern border.