Hours before sunrise, migrants at one of Mexico’s largest shelters wake up and go online, hoping to secure an appointment to try to seek asylum in the U.S. The daily ritual resembles a race for concert tickets when online sales begin for a major act, as about 100 people glide their thumbs over phone screens.
New appointments are available each day at 6 a.m., but migrants find themselves stymied by error messages from the U.S. government’s CBPOne mobile app that’s been overloaded since the Biden administration introduced it Jan. 12.
Many can’t log in; others are able to enter their information and select a date, only to have the screen freeze at final confirmation. Some get a message saying they must be near a U.S. crossing, despite being in Mexico’s largest border city.
At Embajadores de Jesus in Tijuana, only two of more than 1,000 migrants got appointments in the first two weeks, says director Gustavo Banda.
“We’re going to continue trying, but it’s a failure for us,” Erlin Rodriguez of Honduras said after another fruitless run at an appointment for him, his wife and their two children one Sunday before dawn. “There’s no hope.”
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