US southern border saturated amid massive arrival of migrants
El Paso, Texas, May 8 (EFE).- About 1,000 migrants are camped out in downtown El Paso, Texas, on the border with Mexico, a city that is overflowing with new arrivals amid the massive influx of people who have decided to make the risky trek to the United States, where immigration rules are changing this week with the expiration of Title 42, a measure that has allowed fast-track expulsions of migrants for health reasons.
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, a Republican, on Monday announced the deployment of a new National Guard unit that will use helicopters to prevent migrants from crossing into the state from Mexico, and he said that bills are being drafted to make it a “serious crime” to enter the US illegally and to allow the expulsion of migrants.
In El Paso, a state of emergency has prevailed since May 1 so that authorities can react more quickly and fully to the situation, given the huge inflow of migrants who have decided not to wait until Title 42 expires on Thursday to seek a better life in the US.
In downtown El Paso, near the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, about 1,000 people have gathered, most of them male undocumented migrants who at night cover themselves with Red Cross blankets and during the day take shelter from the intense sun under improvised canvas tents.
Authorities have blocked traffic in front of the church, where police vehicles are stationed.
Also, public services have been set up for the people concentrated in the area, many of whom are making plans for what they’ll do next: request asylum or continue their illegal trek northward risking being apprehended and deported.
A Venezuelan and a Cuban, who did not want to be videotaped or identified, expressed their doubts to EFE, saying that they arrived here two days ago and still don’t know just what they can or must do now that they’ve crossed the border.
Honduran Jose Alfredo, his wife and daughters, ages 2 and 5, crossed the border into the US on Sunday morning “at 2 am.”
He told EFE that they had spent four months in Mexico after fleeing from southern Honduras after receiving threats from local gangs, who had twice attacked his electric appliances shop.
“It’s been the hardest thing that’s happened to us, the most difficult thing in our lives, very tough,” he said before admitting that now, however, they’re calmer.
On one side of the church, loudspeakers repeat a message read by a City Hall official, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, who warns that there are more and more migrants who are arriving and advising them that “prolonging your stay in this city could delay your immigration processing even more.”
Samaniego insists that the city’s shelters are only prepared to provide housing for three days to recently arrived people and he urges them to leave, saying “Expectations are that the situation for immigrants on the street will get worse.”
On Monday morning a group of about 10 municipal officials were offering information to the people in the area given the great confusion and concern of most of them about what to do next.
Title 42 was implemented by Republican former President Donald Trump in 2020 under the pretext of expelling potential coronavirus carriers, and it has been maintained by Democrat Joe Biden but on Thursday is due to expire.
According to US Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz, the El Paso region is the zone in which a large number of border crossings have been registered in the last six months, with most of those people being Venezuelans.
According to figures compiled by US Customs and Border Protection, between October 2022 and March 2023 some 1,223,067 migrants have been detained along the southern US border, most of them in the El Paso area.
Compared to the same period the year before, the number of detentions in the zone has increased by about 134 percent.
During this time, US authorities detained 382,092 Mexicans, 85,664 Guatemalans, 75,824 Hondurans and 30,735 Salvadorans, these being the main nationalities that have traditionally crossed the border without requesting the proper authorization.
However, in recent years the flow of people from other Latin American countries has markedly increased and since last October US security agencies have intercepted 114,710 Cubans, 95,039 Nicaraguans, 89,201 Colombians, 61,129 Venezuelans, 58,254 Peruvians and 46,284 Haitians, along with many other nationalities.