Her daughters are US citizens. Heading 42 will not allow this mother from Guatemala to enter the country The state

Emilsa from Guatemala stands on Tuesday near the shower shelter for migrants Ciudad Juarez with her daughters, both of whom are US citizens. The three have been in the shelter for more than a year – longer than anyone there. (Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune)

Every morning for the past year, Emils and her two American-born daughters wake up on a mattress in a shelter at a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez. For breakfast, they usually eat eggs and potatoes or any food that people donate to the shelter.

After the meal, the 39-year-old Guatemalan will read to her daughters and teach her 8-year addition and subtraction and 11-year multiplication and division. The rest of the day the girls play with other children, and Emilza chats with hundreds of other migrants in a crowded shelter. On Saturdays she attends Bible study and religious preaching at the shelter.

Ever since the family arrived at the shelter in May 2021, they have been waiting for the Biden administration to repeal Title 42 so they can migrate to the U.S. together

Immigration officials have used the health care order nearly 1.8 million times since March 2020 to expel migrants from entering the country, including asylum seekers.

The Trump administration at the beginning of the pandemic used Section 42 to close the northern and southern borders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But now some lawmakers want to keep it as an immigration control tool.

“I just want someone to help me get out of here so my daughters can go to school and do something about themselves,” Emilsa said last week as her daughters ran to her with a box of chocolates and flowers, a Mother’s Day gift. .

While her daughters, who are U.S. citizens, can cross the border at any time, Title 42 has blocked Emils from seeking asylum in the United States. water treatment plant.

Emilsa, who asked to be identified only by her father’s name because she feared the cartel members could find her, is one of hundreds of thousands of migrants living in suspension in Mexico’s border towns, eagerly awaiting May 23. when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was repealing health care by allowing migrants to cross the border again and apply for asylum.

But a federal judge in Louisiana may soon stop the CDC’s move and retain title 42 indefinitely.

After Arizona and more than 20 other Republican-controlled states filed a lawsuit in federal court last month asking District Judge Robert R. Summerhays to block the Biden administration from revoking title 42, the Trump nominee said in court documents that he plans to rule in favor. states. This is likely to provoke months of litigation if the Biden administration appeals the decision to a higher court.

In court documents, Justice Department attorneys representing the administration said Section 42 was to be a temporary medical order.

Democrats and immigrant rights activists argue that Title 42 should be repealed because it is inhumane and forces asylum seekers to live in Mexico’s border towns, where they become easy targets for criminals seeking to use them. They also say that section 42 violates the right of migrants to seek asylum.

“Every day that this policy continues, we deny displaced human beings – most of them black, indigenous and brown – the right to seek refuge by expelling them from the United States and endangering them,” said Carla Marisol Vargas, senior lawyer for the Texas Civic Project. rights. “An immediate cessation of Title 42 is needed to restore access to the shelter and to fulfill the administration’s promises to accept all people with dignity without exception.”

The states argued that the abolition of Title 42 could create chaos on the U.S.-Mexico border, attracting even more migrants and forcing states to spend taxpayers’ money on services such as health care for migrants. Texas, which filed a separate lawsuit, joined Arizona’s lawsuit earlier this month.

“Removing title 42 will definitely exacerbate Biden’s border crisis. Law enforcement officers were exposed, arresting violent, illegal foreigners [sic] Biden’s reckless policies have prompted us to cross our border, “said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. the statement said last month.

It is unclear when the judge will rule, but it is expected by May 23.

Meanwhile in Juarez Emils is waiting with her daughters because they don’t want to part.

“I’m not planning anything at the moment,” she said. “I’m just waiting for a miracle from God.”

Grisel Ramirez, director of the Esperanza Para Todos shelter, where Emilza and her daughters are staying, said the shelter far exceeds its capacity of 180 people. It currently hosts 240 people from countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and other parts of Mexico.

“There are people arriving at night, and the city can be dangerous at times,” she said. “I don’t kick them out, even if it complicates things for us here.”

“I felt like my whole world was over”

Emilsa said she had twice sought asylum in the United States.

The first time was 21 years ago when she left Guatemala for Minnesota, where her brother lived, because an ex-boyfriend beat her up and threatened to kill her with a knife. She said she walked through the Chihuahua Desert to Texas as an undocumented immigrant.

In Minnesota, she found a job at a Mexican restaurant as a chef. Two years later, she met a Mexican man with whom she began dating before they moved together and gave birth to two daughters.

But over the years the couple broke up in the direction of their relationship, and her boyfriend beat her up during an argument, she said. They parted ways and he returned to his home state of Michoacan and found a job cutting and transporting lumber.

Six months after he returned to Mexico, a tree fell off the trailer and fell on his chest, damaging his heart and lungs, Emilsa said. The doctor told him that if a donor for a heart transplant was not found, he would die.

He called Emilie and told her he wanted to see his daughters one last time. Emilsa knew that if she went to Mexico, she would not be able to return to the United States because she had no documents. But she also didn’t want her daughters to miss their father one last time, she said.

She quit her job, packed clothes for herself and the children, and a friend drove her to El Paso, where an immigration officer asked her if she was sure she wanted to cross because she would not be able to return, she said. After she crossed the footbridge in Juarez, her father-in-law picked her up and drove her to Michoacan, a drug cartel violence hotspot, to rejoin her boyfriend.

“I forgot about all the blows he inflicted on me and all the problems we had,” she said. “I just wanted him to be happy with the girls at the last minute.”

In Mexico, Emilza and her boyfriend got married, mostly so she could get Mexican citizenship and work legally. She said they abandoned the process of obtaining Mexican citizenship because Mexican government officials told her she did not meet the requirements.

Three years later, in April 2018, Emilza’s husband died in his bed after his heart stopped.

“I already felt guilty,” she said. “But at that moment I felt my whole world was over.”

She decided to stay in Michoacan, where she lived with her husband’s family and worked at a water treatment plant while her girls went to school. Emilza said they felt safe at first.

One day after work in 2019, Emilsa said she was walking home through a wooded area when a group of men approached her and asked if her boss was paying a monthly quota. Emilsa said she knew who they were, members of the Los Corca drug cartel, which controlled illegal logging and marijuana cultivation in the eastern forests of Michoacan. She said she admitted her ignorance and the men missed her.

A few weeks later, the same group of men approached her again and said they knew she and her daughters were not Mexican, and if they wanted to continue living in the area, Emilie would have to pay $ 50 a month – half her monthly salary.

“If you don’t want to pay for living here, your daughters will pay,” Emilza said, one of the men told her. “If you don’t pay, we’ll kidnap them – we know they’re Americans.”

She said she paid them several times, but knew she could not last long because she had no money left for school supplies for her daughters.

When Emilza heard that the local family was planning to go to Juarez so they could cross the border and ask for asylum, she decided to flee. One of her brothers-in-law gave Emils $ 250 to travel by bus with the other family to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Turned away at the border

When she arrived at the shelter, Emilsa began calling immigration rights groups in El Paso, hoping that defenders would be able to provide her with legal assistance so she could legally cross the bridge. But three months later, she said she had not been called back.

She said she feared that if she tried without a lawyer, immigration officials would separate her from her daughters. But in August she ran out of patience and she still decided to give it a try.

She explained to immigration officials why she fled Guatemala and Mexico and how her daughters are U.S. citizens. Agents said there was nothing they could do for Emilza and her daughters because of the pandemic, she said.

Exhausted, they returned to the shelter.

In Juarez, they have nothing to do, she said. It doesn’t work because it doesn’t have a permit. She worries that her daughters are behind in school because she can only do so much and the shelter does not offer classes for children.

One of Emilza’s daughters on Tuesday plays with a stuffed animal at the Ciudad Juarez Migrant Shelter. She and her sister are U.S. citizens, born in Minnesota. They have been living in a shelter with their mother for more than a year. (Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune)

During the year that she was there, she befriended other migrants. Some of them managed to enter the United States because they have medical conditions that fall under the exception of Chapter 42. She said that others, tired of waiting, decided to enter the United States illegally or settle elsewhere in Mexico, and now she and her daughter had been in the shelter longer than anyone else.

She said they still feel safe but depend on donated food, clothing and hygiene items.

They are therefore waiting, hoping that title 42 will be revoked so that she can apply for asylum, or that a propaganda group can help her find a way to legally cross paths with her daughters.

“Maybe if it was just me, I wouldn’t worry about staying here,” she said. “But what worries me the most is that my girls don’t go to school or study.”

This story originally appeared in Texas Tribune. Reprinted here with permission. The Texas Tribune is a non-partisan, member-backed newsroom that informs and engages Texans about public policy and politics.

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