New York City
The New York City skyline AFP

Over 500 migrant day workers protested in New York City against an increasingly "hostile environment" caused by a series of laws and bills aimed at stemming the flow of migrants to the U.S. and deporting those who are in the country unlawfully.

The march was called by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). It began at Herald Square in Manhattan, where laborers from states as far as California, Texas and Florida marched toward a shelter for migrants.

Pablo Alvarado, head of NDLON, said that the different measures also increase discrimination levels to workers who earn lower salaries. He specifically mentioned bills by Republican-led states such as Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Louisiana, which allow local law enforcement to arrest migrants who are in the country unlawfully.

He also criticized President Joe Biden for approving an executive order that prohibits people found crossing the southern border illegally from requesting asylum during periods when daily illegal crossings surpass 2,500 unless they meet certain exceptions.

"He did it because of political cowardice and that's weakness. If he thinks that will get him more votes or convince extremist Republicans, he's wrong," he said in a speech at the beginning of the event, according to EFE news agency. "It's not a good political message nor a good message for immigrants."

The Department of Homeland Security deals with 4,000 asylum-seekers on a daily basis, but with Biden's executive order, the southern U.S. border will temporarily shut down requests when the number of daily claimants rises above 2,500.

The government will discontinue this restriction after the daily average of migrants crossing the border falls below 1,500 for a week.

While critics say Biden's immigration plan does not go far enough to respond to the numbers of people showing up at the U.S. southern border, others warn of the human rights violations that this measure carries for vulnerable people seeking asylum.

Moreover, three agents involved in enforcing the measure told NBC News there is confusion over what to do with thousands of migrants who will now be deported but whose countries will not accept them back, such as migrants from Venezuela, China and elsewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere.

At the same time, several Department of Homeland Security officials responsible for carrying out the action, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there is concern that detention facilities and processing centers for migrants could quickly become overcrowded.

While these questions remain virtually unanswered, at a press conference this week, Department of Homeland Security officials said the agency will be sending resources to the border in the coming weeks. They said the new policies should reduce the time it takes to process migrants by 30 to 45 minutes, in order to free up more space to hold migrants in custody.

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