Venezuelan migrants in El Paso relying on “faith,” not policies
El Paso, Texas, May 4 (EFE).- Venezuelan Luis Gutierrez, one of the hundreds of migrants who are arriving these days in El Paso, Texas, told EFE that he doesn’t know anything about Title 42, a US regulation allowing the expedited expulsion of illegal migrants that will expire in a week.
Gutierrez, 33, said that he entered the US illegally through a “gap” a foot in diameter – presumably through the US-Mexico border fence – and advises anyone trying to get across the frontier “to be strong because the road is a rough one.”
He said he knew nothing about Title 42 – a measure implemented in 2020 by then-President Donald Trump under the pretext of ensuring that coronavirus carriers could not enter the country – and, moreover, he didn’t care. He said he just had “faith in God” to be able to financially help his wife and children, who he left in Venezuela.
“We’re not soaked in the Title, not at all. We’re ignorant about that. I don’t know what might happen when it ends,” he said, surrounded by other migrants in El Paso, across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and which on Monday declared an emergency given the huge numbers of migrants arriving in recent weeks.
Gutierrez said he sleeps on the street with his brother Jose and several friends, adding that they cover themselves with pieces of cardboard, hoping eventually to get to Chicago, where he will try to find work.
He was already expelled from the US once on a flight that took him to Matamoros, Mexico, and said that he and other migrants were handcuffed, deceived and told that they were going to be flown to Arizona, where they could look for their relatives, but they ended up back in Mexico.
But, he returned to the border and, after asking other migrants, got to the “gap” and crawled through it after waiting for two nights for the Border Patrol to leave the area. “It was really tough because La Migra (US immigration authorities) doesn’t leave the place where the hole is,” he said.
“For us, Mexico was a difficult journey. We spent two-and-a-half months walking, hitching rides, asking people for help,” he said.
Gutierrez added that he tried to enter the US legally using the online CBP One app, but he spent three months trying and could never access it.
Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans seeking asylum – and who can theoretically speed up the process using the online tool thanks to a humanitarian program set up by the Joe Biden administration for their nationalities – have complained about the difficulty they’ve had accessing and using the app.
Meanwhile, Gutierrez’s brother Jose, 30, told EFE that the authorization available through CBP One “isn’t worth anything and La Migra (deports) them” anyway, and that the “real” document one needs is one allowing a migrant like him to work in the US to be able to help the wife and three daughters he left in Venezuela.
As a Venezuelan, Jose Gutierrez is eligible to receive humanitarian aid, but that requires having a sponsor in the US and he said he didn’t believe it’s a possibility for him.
“I don’t have anyone’s support … Nobody’s given me a single cent to get this far, just God. I owe everything to God … If he’s got me here sleeping (on the street), it’s for a reason,” he said.
Jose, too, said that he didn’t know much about Title 42 and admitted that he, his brother and other migrants are coming to the US “ignorant” about the country’s laws. He also said he was anxious about being deported again, given that this is the second time he’s crossed the border illegally after spending a number of months trekking through Latin America.
Gilbert Garcia, who also opted to cross the US border illegally through the Darien jungle on the border between Colombia and Panama, said that doing so was torture. He told EFE he didn’t recommend that anyone do that, and even less so with children. “It’s something I don’t wish on anyone,” he declared.
He said he was happy to be “on this side” of the border, though, and that he wants to work in the fields, as he did in Venezuela.
But he added that he felt “confused,” since he has no money to get to Chicago and didn’t go through the procedure to get himself a humanitarian permit via CBP One.