SOMERTON, Arizona (Border Report) — It was long before the sun came out and Fernando Quiroz could be seen directing a group from the Arizona-California Humanitarian Coalition as they passed out food, water and blankets to hundreds of migrants in the area.
The migrants had entered the U.S. through a wide gap in the border barrier in southwestern Arizona, and with the temperature hovering just above 40 degrees, some lighted small fires to stay warm.
“Many, many Cubans, Colombians, Uzbekistan, Peru, Colombia, from every country,” Quiroz said.
According to Quiroz, this has been a daily occurrence at this portion of the southern border, especially over the last few months.
“A typical asylum-seeker years ago would go through a port of entry, but they are told these ports of entry are closed to them so they have been pushed to cross unlawfully,” said Quiroz. “Every day you have anywhere from 300 to 500 migrants here.”
He stated the migrants overcome many obstacles just to reach the U.S. including a row of large containers that have been stacked up to fill in gaps along the border barrier.
Quiroz specifically mentioned one stretch of containers nearby, calling it “a waste of money.”
“It’s less than 1,000 feet, so you can just walk around. It serves no purpose; it was a political stunt. At the end of day, you can still see what we’re facing.”
He meant a long line of migrants waiting to get processed by Border Patrol agents.
Quiroz believes there’s a solution, especially as Title 42 might be ending.
Title 42 is a directive by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was adopted by the Trump administration when the pandemic started.
It was a preventive measure to keep COVID-19 out of the country by prohibiting migrants, who might be carrying the virus, from staying in the U.S., something that was never proven and was dismissed by many in the medical field.
But to this day, it gives federal agents the authority to expel migrants almost immediately after being detained without giving them a chance to ask for asylum.
Migrant advocates like Quiroz believe ending Title 42 would provide a safe pathway to the U.S. for many asylum-seekers.
“Allow these individuals to seek asylum through a port of entry, not crossing a river, not crossing mountain ranges and not crossing dangerous levees found throughout Arizona,” said Quiroz.
The U.S. government made its plea in a filing a day after Chief Justice John Roberts issued a temporary order to keep the pandemic-era limits on migrants in place. Before Roberts issued that order, the restrictions had been slated to expire Wednesday.