Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras, US/Mexico, Oct. 24 (EFE) – Despite regulations limiting access to asylum and tight border security, thousands continue to try to enter the United States in search of a better life, while border cities continue to receive record numbers of migrants.
Paola (a fictional name to protect her identity) scans the river with her eyes. With water up to their waists, her companions – six adults, five children and a baby in her arms – are already making their way in.
“I’m nervous, but I came for this,” the young woman tells EFE, just before getting into the water for the last border crossing on her journey across the continent.
Like her, thousands of people have decided to cross irregularly into the US, despite attempts by the Joe Biden administration to discourage and restrict land migration.
Since May, when the new asylum rule went into effect, more than 800,000 people have been detained by US authorities at the southern border, according to the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The rule makes migrants ineligible for asylum if they cross the southern border without legal permission and without first seeking humanitarian refuge in another country, such as Mexico, on their journey north.
As Paola and her group cross the shore, they are greeted by meters of concertina, a wire with sharp rectangular blades, and dozens of containers lined up side by side to welcome them to Texas.
The men in Paola’s group take off their shirts and place them on the wire to avoid cutting themselves.
It doesn’t take long for the Border Patrol and the state Department of Public Safety to close in.
An agent grabs a long wooden stick and helps the group out of the river, then leads them into a white van.
“WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO HERE?
Piedras Negras, a border town of more than 160,000 people has only one active shelter, and it is bursting at the seams.
Its director, a Franciscan nun from El Salvador, says about 300 people arrive daily, and the old school-turned-shelter can accommodate only a hundred.
“We don’t have the conditions for the number of people who come,” says Sister Isabel Turcios, a small woman with simple frameless glasses.
“What worries us is that the cold will come and people will not be able to stay in the patios as they do in the hot season,” she adds.
Inside the Casa del Migrante (Migrant House), as the shelter is called, people sit wherever they can: on the floor, on the grass, and on what used to be a soccer field.
Children run around, and some young people clean the entrance with a few brooms and a bucket of water.
Héctor (not his real name) has been at the shelter for one night and says he has not been able to sleep.
He is from Venezuela but lived in Peru for 5 years and says he decided to come to the US because the money he earned was not enough to live on.