BROWNSVILLE. Texas (Border Report) — Hundreds of migrants on Wednesday continued streaming across the border and into Brownsville, Texas, where many could be seen walking the streets after being legally released into the United States just hours after arriving.
At least 400 were being processed by noon on the dirt levee behind Texas Southmost College’s baseball field, which has now become a field of asylum-seekers.
On Tuesday, 2,000 migrants came across and were apprehended in this area, bringing close to 5,000 the number of apprehensions in this South Texas border city this week.
Federal and local officials see no end in sight.
Porta-potties were brought in on Wednesday, and additional tents were put up to shade young children and protect the elderly.
Families with small children could be seen grouped apart from single adults who mostly sat or stood for hours under the intense South Texas sun.
Bus after bus came and the migrants were loaded and taken for processing.
Border Patrol agents are using a “new mobile intake application to efficiently collect biometrics and biographical information,” RGV Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez tweeted.
A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Border Report “our borders are not open for those without a legal basis to enter the country.”
Asylum-seekers who do not show just cause for entering the United States will be expelled under Title 42, or put in Title 8 removal proceedings, the spokesperson said. However, certain vulnerable populations and those with extenuating circumstances will be considered for legal release into the country, pending their immigration court hearings.
Our borders are not open.”CBP spokesperson
“CBP stands ready to address increased migrant encounters as we work to ensure the security of our borders. When these challenges arise, CBP works to rapidly surge resources to impacted areas in order to quickly and safely take migrants into custody and complete their immigration processing,” the spokesperson said.
Wednesday, on the streets of Brownsville, many migrants could be seen walking about, waiting for public buses, and looking for help and information on how to get to other cities. They were easy to spot with their familiar bright blue tote bags that are given out at the city’s Welcome Center, which is run by local nonprofit groups that help migrants.
Franko Silva, 24, of Caracas, Venezuela, said he left behind three children to come to the United States where he wants to find work as a barber. He said he crossed from Juarez into El Paso and was bused to Brownsville for processing.
He has no family here, however, and he lacks the money to travel. But he wasn’t feeling hopeless or sad.
On the contrary, he was singing a Spanish rap song he made up about immigrants crossing and their travails.
As he rapped, some other asylum-seekers who also were mulling outside the Brownsville bus station, joined in. Then they began comparing paperwork and the SmartLink mobile cellphone app they each were given by the Department of Homeland Security to track their whereabouts.
Several were confused about how to use the app, and as noon neared, they worried that they would miss a deadline for uploading photos into the device, which would be fed to federal officials monitoring their whereabouts.
Andrea Rudnik, a volunteer with the nonprofit Team Brownsville, suddenly had these devices thrust in her face as well as dozens of questions in Spanish and thanks from the migrants. Many she had met across the street at the Welcome Center where her organization helps to pass out hygiene kits and supplies, as well as snacks and hugs.
They were told to expect up to 14 busloads of released migrants, that’s over 650 people. And she said they were doubling up on supplies, and calling in extra help.
“We’re prepared. We’ve been preparing for greater influx of people for four months. And so we’re ready. We have the volunteers. And we’re expecting to see more even more people over the next several weeks,” Rudnik told Border Report.
Rafael Mendoza, right in 1st photo, and his brother were part of a large family from Venezuela who swam across the Rio Grande on Monday night and were released by DHS officials on Wednesday. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report Photos)
Rafael Mendoza said his family of four brothers and one sister, and uncle, all traveled together from Venezuela, and had been living across the Rio Grande in makeshift tents made out of plastic tarp.
But he said late Monday night they made the sudden decision to swim across the swollen river after dozens of migrant tents were set on fire last week, and they feared they were next.
“We had nothing. What little we had we left quickly and jumped into the river,” said Mendoza, 27, who worked in construction in Venezuela.
He is fit and trim and said he swam across first and then began helping the others as they struggled across the currents. Then he said they scaled a muddy embankment, clawing at the roots of trees to hold on, scraping their wrists and bloodying their fingers as they tried to get over the top.
On the other side, they quickly encountered Border Patrol agents who took them in and released them on Wednesday morning.
They all had evening flights to Atlanta where other family were waiting for them, he said.
He said it would be a relief to get to Atlanta because during their two-month journey, they had been protecting their 19-year-old sister, Valeria, who was the sole woman to join them. He said they got into fights as men tried to attack her, and they had six cellphones stolen from them along the way.
After arriving drenched and exhausted, he said their clothes were dirty and full of mud. He said they hadn’t eaten for five days before leaving Matamoros and that was part of what drove them to swim the dangerous river, which Mexicans call Rio Bravo due to its fierce undertow.
He said he was “grateful to God” for people like Rudnik and the other volunteers who gave them new clothes, and snacks.
And he said everyone in America, so far, has been very welcoming.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com