Every morning, mothers at a shelter in Juarez, Mexico frantically refresh a U.S. government app at 9.a.m., hoping to get an appointment to enter America.
By 9:05 a.m., all the appointments, and hope, are gone.
“It’s [a] lottery with people’s lives, with– with people’s families, with people’s livelihoods, with people’s wellbeing,” Karina Breceda, who runs the shelter, told 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi.
The Biden administration hopes the app will dissuade migrants from entering the U.S. illegally. According to Border Patrol figures, an average of 1,800 migrants a day crossed the Rio Grande into El Paso in December, overwhelming the city. To manage the increasing flow of migrants from crisis-stricken Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba, President Joe Biden in January expanded the use of a pandemic-era public health order, based on a law called Title 42, to expel them to Mexico.
The CBP One app was also expanded in January to allow migrants to apply for a humanitarian exemption to Title 42. Administration officials say the process is more humane than what was going on before.
“It is not ‘the most humane process’ because the most vulnerable aren’t, aren’t getting access to it,” Breceda said.
Guadalupe Vazquez has spent the last two months trying to get an appointment for herself and her three children to come to the U.S. She said her husband was murdered in southwest Mexico. One of her sons had been shot in the eye and needed bullet fragments removed.
Vazquez said she’s willing to wait for an appointment, but that she has a plan if she can’t get one.
“I’ll try to cross with a smuggler, and I’ll cross with my children,” she said in Spanish.