Hundreds of migrants amass near US-Mexico wall with COVID ban set to end

FILE PHOTO: Migrants gather between the primary and secondary border fences in San Diego as the United States prepares to lift COVID-19 era restrictions known as Title 42, that have blocked migrants at the U.S.- Mexico border from seeking asylum since 2020, as seen from Tijuana, Mexico May 8, 2023. REUTERS/Aimee Melo/File Photo

By Lizbeth Diaz

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Long lines of migrants have amassed this week in the border city of Tijuana, near the sprawling wall that divides Mexico from the United States, in the final days of a three-year long COVID-19 policy that blocked people crossing from seeking asylum.

The policy, known as Title 42, is set to expire at midnight on May 11, prompting a rush of migrants to the border, now huddled under black plastic or makeshift tents waiting to cross into the U.S.

“Nothing like this has been seen before,” said Enrique Lucero, Tijuana’s director of migrant affairs.

Activists say that queues of migrants started arriving this week to the city of Tijuana, which borders San Diego, California, hoping to get ahead of a potential rush in asylum applications after May 11.

Some have attempted to cross illegally instead of waiting, they add.

The United States has insisted the end of Title 42 does not mean borders will be open.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he will hold a video call with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden on Tuesday, with migration among the key topics to be discussed.

The Biden administration and Texas state government are sending reinforcements to the border to prepare for a possible increase in illegal immigration.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Sonali Paul)

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