DEL RIO, Texas (Border Report) — In a surprising response to a mass of migrants living under an international bridge on the Texas/Mexico border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials around 6 p.m. today suddenly closed the international bridge in Del Rio.
Residents and workers trying to get home from both sides of the border found themselves stranded just as rush hour traffic descended on this busy port — the only one in the region.
“This temporary closure and shift is necessary in order to respond to urgent safety and security needs presented by the influx of migrants into Del Rio, and is effective immediately,” CBP said in a news release.
CBP officials were urging traffic that normally uses the Del Rio International Bridge, which connects to the northern Mexican town of Ciudad Acuña, to instead use the international bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas, about 60 miles southeast of Del Rio.
But that bridge connects to Piedras Negras, and many motorists told Border Report they didn’t know how to safely get back to Ciudad Acuña and some truckers said they do not have permission from their companies to divert their routes.
Many residents stayed for hours in their vehicles completely unaware that the bridge would most likely remain closed for the entire night, local officials told Border Report.
“A lot of people live in Mexico but they work here in Del Rio so they’re trying to get back home.” said Christi Dehoyos, whose family runs a taxi service near the bridge.
Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens late Friday walked in the dark personally talking to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians and telling them that the bridge wasn’t going to open and they either needed to go around or find a place to stay for the night on the U.S. side.
Owens told Border Report this was a necessary safety move as law enforcement try to get a handle on the crowd of migrants, which he said numbered over 13,000 as of Friday night.
The Del Rio mayor earlier Friday issued a local disaster declaration and requested to close all southbound lanes. But that didn’t happen until federal officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security signed off on the closure this evening.
“With what the mayor was fixing to do I applaud him and his efforts to try to take care of the citizens and for safety reasons that’s the reason he was asking for it to be done. We got a phone call this afternoon that basically the port would be closing at 6 and that was done at the federal level,” Owens said.
Texas Gov. Abbott has promised to send additional resources, like state troopers and road barriers, which were being brought from Laredo, Texas.