Social Issues

Migrants refuse to leave camp on Mexico-US border

Matamoros, Mexico, Aug 16 (EFE).- Hundreds of third-country migrants camped out on the banks of the Rio Grande in hopes of crossing into the United States rebuffed Wednesday an effort by authorities to move them to a shelter in Matamoros.

While around 500 migrants accepted the offer from city officials and activists, hundreds more refused to abandon the riverside encampment opposite Brownsville, Texas.

The leader of a group advocating on behalf of the migrants, Gladys Cañas Aguilar, told EFE that some at the camp were afraid to go to a shelter because of what happened in March at a government-run shelter in Ciudad Juarez, where 40 migrants died in a fire.

Others suspect that authorities wanted to gather them in one place in order to deport them.

“I raise my voice for their human rights to be respected, for everything to be done in a voluntary and peaceful manner,” Cañas said.

The attempt to clear the encampment from the riverbank comes amid a rebound in the flow of US-bound migrants through Mexico after the numbers dropped for several months due to changes in Washington’s policy toward asylum seekers.

During the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, 2022, US authorities intercepted more than 2.76 million undocumented migrants on the southern border.

And recent weeks have seem controversy grow over the decision by the Republican governor of Texas to place floating buoys and wire fencing along a stretch of the Rio Grande to deter migrants from trying to cross the river.

The new shelter in Matamoros is on the site of a former public hospital.

Funded by the Tamaulipas state government, the shelter, which can hold 1,200 people, is being run by personnel from the San Juan Diego Migrant House in partnership with civic groups.

“After months of being in the camp on the edge of the Rio Grande, seeking safe places where they can feel protected. We will gladly welcome whoever wants to come here,” Migrant House coordinator Jose Luis Elias Rodriguez told EFE.

For months, the encampment was home to thousands of migrants, mainly people from Venezuela and Central America.

“We decided to leave because we will be better off than here (by the river),” Diana Aparicio said. “More than anything for the food, water, and sanitation.”

The shelter has rules of conduct and state police will be there to ensure that the rules are followed.

“We will have more security because in the street we’re afraid that something is going to happen to us,” a Venezuelan woman named Daris said. EFE apj/dr

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