JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – The U.S. congressional elections are over, but the Venezuelan migrants camped in tents on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande are not moving.
Several migrants last month told Border Report they intended to stay at the camp in hopes the Biden administration would again exempt Venezuelan nationals from Title 42 expulsions after the midterms. Once that happened, they planned to cross the river, surrender to the U.S. Border Patrol and request asylum.
“That was our hope. But it appears those who do not want us over there won. So, we don’t know what to do. We must wait,” said Nestor, who has spent more than a week in the tents. “It’s not easy to say, ‘the elections are lost, there is no opportunity. Let’s go to Venezuela.’ No, we lost everything over there” in coming to the U.S. border.
On October 12, the Biden administration made Venezuelans amenable to expulsion if they crossed into the U.S. illegally. The Department of Homeland Security started a program to let in up to 24,000 Venezuelans with sponsors if they applied for asylum remotely.
But several Venezuelans interviewed Thursday in Juarez said they do not qualify under the DHS rules because they neither have sponsors in the United States nor passports, which they say cost hundreds of dollars to process in Venezuela.
The program “does not benefit all of us who are stranded here,” said Oscar Antonio, another migrant at the camp. “There are people who have relatives over there, but no passports. That automatically bars us. […] I have many friends (in the U.S.), but they would rather bring family members from Venezuela or another country than a friend.”
The camp sprung nearly a month ago after Juarez officials told the Venezuelans they could no longer sleep on the streets because of the cold.
On Thursday, Mexican officials warned residents of the tent city that a cold front bringing near-freezing overnight temperatures is expected in a few days. Again, they urged the Venezuelans to move to one of the government or private shelters for their own safety.
“There are 900 people sleeping in 250 tents that we are inviting to go to shelters where they can find health services and be protected from the cold,” said Santiago Gonzalez Reyes, head of Juarez’s Human Rights Office. “We had meetings with the U.S. consul, and he said the rules (for asylum) for the Venezuelans are clear and have been published in official government websites. The requisites have been explained to them and they do not change regardless of the elections.”
The Venezuelans said they still harbor hopes the Biden administration will do an about-face on Title 42 expulsions.
“Venezuelans don’t give up. We will stay here peaceful, in silence,” Oscar Alberto said. “We call on the president, on the U.S. Congress to have pity on us because this is a humanitarian issue.”