Migrants Reach the California Border After the Legal Standards Change for Asylum Seekers

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jun 06, 2024

On Tuesday evening, President Biden issued a new executive order restricting the number of people who can receive asylum status at the U.S. border each day.

The new ruling affects people coming from around the world who want to pass through the United States for a number of reasons. After 2,500 migrants are arrested at the southern border, anyone else will be blocked from receiving asylum status.

Migrants Come From Several Countries, Not Just Mexico

A group of 50 migrants showed up at the California border crossing after hiking through the California desert for nine hours.

Landscape view showing a section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence, with a dusty path leading up to it and the urban backdrop of Tijuana, Mexico

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They were close to dehydration and ran out of food. The men, women, and children in the group came from Cuba, Ecuador, China, and Brazil.

Many Weren’t Aware of the Changed Order When They Arrived in America

The rules changed the ability of many migrants to achieve asylum status. Now, when more than 2,500 people are arrested at the border each day, the remainder will be sent back to Mexico.

A look at a section of the border wall at the US southern border.

Source: Dicklyon/Wikimedia

Lucas Lu, a 32-year-old from China, had no idea about the rule change. He claims that the executive order goes against American values. He was interviewed while sitting in the dirt and hand cuffed by Homeland Security.

Getting to the Border Is Dangerous Work

Many migrants cross dangerous channels, such as small boats on the Panama Canal or simply by walking through the mountains of Mexico.

A large group of migrants wearing red safety vests in an inflatable boat in rough waters

Source: @ActivePatriotUK/X

During his three-month journey, Lu was injured while on a boat in Panama. When he was arrested in America, he was wearing a back brace and walking with a cane.

Smugglers Often Bring Migrants Through the California Desert

Earlier this year, it was discovered that expensive coyotes found a new loophole in bringing migrants through southern California.

A large group of migrants gathered in a temporary campsite by a border wall in a desert area, with tents and people waiting in line under a cloudy sky

Source: Getty Images

Often, in exchange for a family’s life savings, a smuggler offers a safe passageway through cartel territory and through to California. There, migrants hope to be arrested by border security and apply for asylum status.

So Far, No Increase in Migrants at the Southern Border

Once the threshold of 2,500 asylum seekers per day was announced, many border officials anticipated a wave of migrants wanting to beat the ruling.

The southern border wall between California and Mexico seen in the daytime.

Source: Greg Bulla/Unsplash

However, this has yet to happen. Homeland Security reports that Wednesday began with just 9,000 people arrested for crossing the border illegally, which is on par with the monthly average.


Mexico Is Worried That Their Country Will Experience a Backlog of Migrants

When migrants are denied access to the United States, they are often left behind in Mexico for southern officials to deal with. When migrants come from Mexico, they can easily return to their hometowns.

The United States and Mexican Flags are held up during a May Day Immigration March.

Source: Jonathan Mcintosh/Wikimedia

However, a new trend has emerged of global asylum seekers flying to Mexico and then walking through the American border. When this happens, they cannot be returned to their point of origin. They often become trapped in Mexico, and officials are worried that they might soon experience their own border emergency.


Mexican Shelters are Filling Up Fast

The Movimiento Juventud shelter in Tijuana has beds for around 200 people daily. Usually they see around 60 asylum seekers waiting to get access to the United States.

Aerial view of the U.S.-Mexico border showing a clear division with vehicles and buildings on both sides

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Recently, however, they average around 100 people a night and have hit capacity multiple times. Jose Garcia Lara, the shelter director, worries that the migrant crisis could become bottlenecked in Mexico.


Many border crossers want to be arrested So Far, No Increase in Migrants at the Southern Border

Part of the process of becoming an asylum seeker is being arrested at the American border.

A group of people walk through shallow water to reach the American border wall

Source: @allenanalysis/X

Once in the system, migrants are released and given a court date. During that time, they can often be reunited with families and perform under-the-table work, like farming.


Many Migrants No Longer Come from the Global South

It was previously true that many migrants seeking shelter in the United States came from Mexico or South America, but now, the vast majority of asylum seekers come from the Middle East, India, and China.

Inside a border processing facility where a U.S. Border Patrol agent is checking paperwork while a line of migrant women and children wait, some holding belongings

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Even though some of these places pose no immediate threat through war or religious persecution, many people in these countries make up the poorest global citizens. To gain entry into the U.S., they often book flights to Mexico and walk through the border without the proper paper work.


The Order Has Forced Border Guards To Remove Migrants

It is currently unknown how many people have been removed from the United States pursuant to the new order.

A border wall seen on a beach and into an ocean on the California-Mexico border.

Source: Barbara Zandoval/Unsplash

However, border guards have noted that when the 2,500 asylum seeker number is hit each day, the remaining migrants crossing the border will be turned away. Previously, they were all given food and water and taken into custody to be dealt with legally.


Biden’s Plans Will Continue To Secure the Border

The new ruling at the border reflects President Biden’s changes at the border. Recently, he’s begun working across the aisle to secure the influx of migrants at the border.

Joe Biden gesturing while speaking at a podium with a dark backdrop

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The hope is to open up the system for people waiting in line legally for appointments at border crossings. Some people wait months or years in Mexico to receive the proper appointment to be allowed into the United States.