Among the many migrant interviews conducted in a recent visit to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, most spoke of their hopes to find work and flee extreme poverty. One woman with a small child who claimed to be from Nicaragua expressed fear due to her personal opposition of her current government.
The Nicaraguan woman claims her home country’s government is targeting all forms of political opposition. Complicating her claim, however, is the admission she left a child behind in the care of grandparents. That might complicate a “credible fear” claim normally associated with the U.S. asylum process–if it is actually reviewed.
Nicaragua will hold elections in November 2021. President Daniel Ortega, who now holds on to power beyond term limits, did declare certain opposition candidates as ineligible to stand for office in the fall. His power to do so stems from a recently enacted law that many believe will cement his hold over the country, according to a recent report.
The woman’s claim may never be fully evaluated due to changes in policy recently enacted by the Department of Homeland Security. The changes will allow Border Patrol to quickly release migrant families into the United States without informing immigration courts. Without the issuance of a Notice to Appear to begin the asylum process, the woman’s claim may never face scrutiny. The policy relies on the woman to self-report her status to the nearest immigration court once she arrives at her intended destination in the United States.
A few months ago, the woman and her child would have been returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “remain in Mexico” program. President Joe Biden in his first week cancelled the program and is now working to return those previously required to remain back to the United States.
A law enforcement source, speaking on a condition of anonymity, says the stream of migrants shows no signs of slowing. The source claims apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley are nearing 3,000 per day.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.