Photos: Title 42 remains in place for now as border crisis mounts in southern Arizona

Migrants who crossed the border without authorization in the frigid early morning huddle around makeshift fires.
Some of the hundreds of migrants who crossed the border without authorization in the frigid early morning huddle around makeshift fires south of Yuma, Ariz.
(Don Bartletti / For The Times)
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Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has temporarily paused the termination of a controversial Trump-era immigration policy known as Title 42 that was set to end Dec. 21.

But the flood of migrants to the southern border remains.

Spotlight: southern Arizona.

Around 3 a.m. each morning, hundreds of people line up next to the brightly illuminated 30-foot-tall steel fence. They shiver in the subfreezing desert night or huddle around makeshift warming fires waiting to surrender to Border Patrol agents.

They have traveled from Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Russia and Georgia to a single gap or one of several locked gates in the border wall.

Each one intends to make a plea for asylum.

A family of adults and children walk around a gap in the U.S./Mexico border fence south of Yuma, Az.
A family of adults and children walk around a gap in the U.S.-Mexico border fence along the Colorado River levee south of Yuma, Ariz.
(Don Bartletti / For The Times)
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Many struggled to pronounce the names of American cities where they claimed they had a relative or a friend.

Multigenerational families and sojourners said they’d spent days, weeks or months making flights and taking long bus rides, and some said they walked for months to get here.

A group of 200 migrants wait in a long line to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents south of Yuma, Ariz.
About 200 migrants from at least a dozen countries wait to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents south of Yuma, Ariz. The location is such a busy migratory destination that the Yuma Sector Border Patrol chief had shade canopies, water tanks and portable toilets installed.
(Don Bartletti / For The Times)

They knew well in advance that once they arrived at the border to wait in a line and be expected to surrender everything that couldn’t fit into a one-quart zip-lock plastic bag.

In 2022, there have been so many “give-ups” that Yuma Station Border Patrol special operations supervisor James Wright put up shade canopies as shelter from the scorching summer sun and tanks of fresh water.

Migrants huddle in the shadows of the border wall and try to keep warm until Border Patrol agents arrive.
Migrants huddle in the shadows of the border wall and try to keep warm until Border Patrol agents arrive.
(Don Bartletti / For The Times)
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Two U.S. Border Patrol agents photograph part of about 100 people who surrendered after crossing the Mexico/Arizona border
Two Border Patrol agents photograph a group of about 100 people who surrendered after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona without authorization. At right are stacked shipping containers, put in place earlier this year by former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to plug a gap in the barrier.
(Don Bartletti / For The Times)
A group of migrants wait on the Colorado River levee in San Luis, Arizona.
Cuban nationals Alejandro Diaz and his wife, Ruth Delgado, hold hands as they wait with a group of 200 migrants on the Colorado River levee in San Luis, Ariz. “In Havana, we were English teachers and Christians,” Diaz said. “The government tried to make us vote for a new family code. Because we didn’t vote for it, we felt threatened at school and home so we decided to flee.” They intend to make a plea for asylum and live with his father in Orlando, Fla.
(Don Bartletti / For The Times)