Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Nov 21 (EFE).- For over a month, hundreds of migrants, mostly of Venezuelan origin, have been living in an irregular camp on the banks of the Rio Grande while in the hope that United States immigration authorities will grant them political asylum.
“We have been uncertain these days, we are afraid that at any moment the authorities will come and take us out of the tents and deport us,” Edixon Sierra, one of the migrants at the camp, tells Efe in an interview.
“Each country has its own laws and what we are asking is that they allow us (…) to continue our struggle, we want an opportunity from the United States government to allow us to work,” he added.
In recent days, some groups have decided to leave the camp and cross the border into El Paso, Texas, a decision fueled by a federal judge’s order to suspend Title 42 — a Donald Trump-era policy to return asylum seekers back to Mexico without due process. The policy was underpinned by exceptional Covid-19 rules.
But the federal judge who ordered the suspension accepted a government request to postpone the proposal for five weeks, until December 21, to allow immigration authorities to prepare for the transition.
“The United States will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws at our border,” read a statement from the Department of Homeland Security in response to the increased flow of migrants.
Another Venezuelan migrant at the border, Alejandro Marcano, told Efe: “I am afraid that they will take us away from here.
“We have crossed seven countries. We are going to wait until December 22 to see what the authorities tell us, to see if we can cross,” he added.
On Sunday, Mexican authorities asked the migrants to leave the camp and take cover in shelters as colder weather sets in.
The improvised tents are commonly built with sticks and covered with blankets. On some occasions, the migrants light fire pits to cook or to get some heat when the temperatures drop.
“We will continue to monitor the area and we will try to convince the migrants to go to another place to take refuge, they could suffer hypothermia or if they make a fire pit, it could generate a fire,” said Roberto Briones, director of Civil Protection in Ciudad Juárez.
“We continue to work and we believe that we will succeed in getting them to take shelter,” he added.
But many migrants are not willing to move from the irregular camps, despite the cold: “It would be a terrible thing to be taken away from here (…) I am definitely not going to a shelter. In my case, I left my daughters in Venezuela and I want to cross to help my family,” said Leudys Rojas.
Even as some groups left the camp days ago, there are an estimated 200 tents on the site, which hosts some 1,000 migrants.EFE