SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Liz Mejica was one of the hundreds of migrants who, since the start of the year, lined up bright and early every day, ready for their CBP appointments at the Ped West pedestrian crossing at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Once on the U.S. side of the facility, they are interviewed to see if they qualify for a Title 42 exemption.
“They give you a COVID shot and then they ask you some questions,” Mejica said in Spanish, who had her appointment earlier this week.
But suddenly, she was asked to get up, gather her bags and return to Mexico.
“Without an explanation,” she said.
Mejica, who is from the Mexican state of Guerrero, is now at a migrant shelter in Tijuana afraid to go back home.
“I can’t return, if we go back we will be killed,” she said.
Many other asylum-seekers like her are “bouncing back” to Mexico after getting rejected at the border.
The interviews are conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
When contacted, CBP did not provide figures as to how many asylum-seekers have been rejected since appointments, via the CBP One application, began in January.
“Officers do not make asylum determinations nor is the CBP One app a mechanism to apply for asylum,” wrote a CBP spokesperson. “In recent months, the app has facilitated the scheduling of appointments at ports of entry for consideration of a Title 42 exception.”
At the Agape shelter in Tijuana, there are a couple of dozen migrants who have returned after being turned away at the border following their interviews, according to the shelter director.
One of them is Carolina Mendoza.
“I have to keep trying to get to the United States,” she in Spanish. “Some of my children are already north of the border and they need me.”
Mendoza also said she was given no reasons as to why she was being returned.
But according to Enrique Lucero, head of Tijuana’s Migrant Affairs Office, it’s likely Mendoza had already been in the U.S.
“One reason migrants are being rejected is that they already lived in the United States or have tried getting in already,” he said. “Another reason is that migrants contradict themselves during the interview and their stories don’t match their paperwork.”
Lucero stated migrants must understand getting asylum is not that simple.
“It has to be a very evident case with supporting proof, it can’t just be, ‘Oh, I come from an area where the cartels control everything or I can’t get a job anywhere.’ It has to be a credible case where there is a real reason for persecution.”
According to CBP “foreign nationals without documents to enter the US utilizing the CBP One App for a humanitarian exemption to T-42 are not guaranteed entry to the U.S. Persons with such appointments must still be inspected by a CBP officer to ensure they meet the exemption requirements under T-42. Those persons who meet these exemption requirements are processed for removal proceedings under T-8. During their removal proceedings with an immigration judge, these individuals have the opportunity to express fear of return if ordered removed by the judge.“