Every night, the recently-opened shelter at Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Mission, Texas fills up with nearly a hundred migrants who have been allowed to remain in the United States as they apply for asylum refugee status.
They are among the border crossers seeking refuge here, as the Biden administration allows families with children under seven years old to not be immediately denied entry.
After they arrive, pastor Roy Snipes blesses them with holy water from the Rio Grande River, from which they just crossed over in rafts. His shelter feeds the migrants and offers them essential items and a bed for the night or longer. “You know, if you see a person who has no place to stay and nothing to eat and they ask you if you can help them, you help them,” he said.
Sheltered migrant Kimberly Valasquez recently made the treacherous journey from her native Guatemala with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. “The truth is, thank God, President Biden gave the opportunity for minors to be allowed in,” she said. “It’s joyous that our girl was young so we could come and be here.”
But she felt sympathy for her fellow migrant travelers whose children were too old to allow the family to remain in the US. “It’s really hard because they weren’t given the opportunity,” she said. “It’s really hard because we all have the same suffering.”
The shelter provides help amid what Border Patrol officials say is an extraordinarily high 30-day average of 5,000 daily encounters with migrants. Families like those in the shelter and children traveling alone are allowed to remain in the U.S. to pursue asylum while nearly all single adults are expelled to Mexico under pandemic-era rules that deny them a chance to seek humanitarian protection.
Families like those in the Mission, Texas shelter with children younger than 7 are being allowed to remain in the U.S. to pursue asylum, according to a Border Patrol official speaking to reporters Friday on condition of anonymity. Others in families — only 300 out of 2,200 on Thursday — are expelled.