Makeshift schools in Matamoros and Reyonoso, two cities that rest on the US-Mexico border, regularly accept children whose families are seeking asylum in the United States. The Sidewalk School is run by a nonprofit led by its founder, Felicia Rangel-Samponaro.

Children seeking asylum draw their hopes for the future

The school asks its students to draw a picture of what they imagine life in the US to be. For the most part, according to Rangel-Samponaro, “They all draw rainbows.” However, she knows something these children don’t. The Biden administration’s new plan regarding immigration may make it so none of these kids ever step foot on US soil.

Loading the player...

Here are some of the drawings published by The Sidewalk School Gallery:

The Biden administration is testing an inefficient new app for migrants

In an effort to reduce human trafficking, the Biden administration’s Circumvention of Lawful Pathways proposal would require non-Mexican migrants coming to the US to seek asylum in one of the countries they pass through. That means Honduran migrants may need to seek asylum in, say, Guatemala or Mexico.

Their other option is to use a “Customs & Border Patrol One” app that essentially acts as a lottery system for families seeking asylum. The app is already under fire for its technical shortcomings and the way it incorporates the lottery approach, turning the asylum process into something more akin to a game.

One Honduran immigrant said she gets up at 5 AM every day to try and reserve one of the limited spots for asylum seekers. A Jesuit priest who lives in Brownsville, Texas said, “They’re basically beta-testing this app with human beings.”

Nobody but the Biden administration knows the exact figures, but activists fighting on behalf of migrants estimate that for every 10,000 migrants seeking asylum there are roughly 500 daily spots to make appointments on the app. Additionally, the app does not take health or safety concerns into consideration.

Not to mention the bugs that make the app unapproachable for some. Those with older phones or poor wi-fi connection have an especially difficult time. A Houston Chronicle piece on the new app singles out its facial recognition technology as one of its biggest shortcomings.

Unaccompanied minors seeking asylum are the exception

However, the administration is allowing a major exception to this process: unaccompanied children. Families face a tough decision: keeping their family together or sending their children off for a better life in the US. Roughly 300 unaccompanied minors travel to the US-Mexico border each month.

The number is steadily declining, at least in 2023. However, children are still traveling alone to the US in triple-digit figures. The US public has the option to comment on Biden’s plan, but those submissions end on March 27. Until then, many migrant families are stuck in limbo until the administration reaches a decision.