JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Despite offers of jobs, food and shelter, some 250 Venezuelan migrants are now camped on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande in Juarez.
The migrants began setting up their tents along the levee on Tuesday night after Juarez officials told them they could no longer sleep on the streets near the Paso del Norte International Bridge and offered to bus them to shelters.
Some of the migrants said they were afraid they would be taken into custody and repatriated, while others did not want to be relocated far from the U.S. border. The camp is located directly across from the U.S. Border Patrol’s West Bridge temporary migrant processing facility in El Paso, Texas.
“We agreed the women could go with their children (to shelters), but most of us Venezuelan brothers want to remain here so that the United States and Mexico know [….] that we want to be (over there),” said a masked Venezuelan migrant who acted as a spokesman for the group.
The migrants say they are grateful Juarez residents have responded to their plight by providing food, clothes and tarps for them. However, those staying along the Rio Grande said what they don’t want to be is a burden to Mexico. They said what really want is for the Biden administration to do an about-face on an Oct. 12 decision to expel those who walk across the border under the Title 42 public health order.
The Department of Homeland Security is also offering up to 24,000 Venezuelans the opportunity to apply for asylum remotely.
“Hopefully, they will notice and listen to us and let us cross one day,” said Stephany, one of the migrants at the camp. Meantime, she said, “we will continue here, fighting.”
Juarez officials said they are offering space at shelter to the Venezuelans out of concern for their health and safety. Overnight temperatures in the Juarez-El Paso area have dropped into the 40s recently, and officials worry the children, their parents or the single adults at the camp might get sick.
A city official told Border Report the free rides to shelters is a good will offer and that no migrant would be driven off against his or her will.
In a statement to Border Report, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman said they are aware of the large group of people that set up tents across the Rio Grande in Juarez: “These migrants have staged themselves near a low water crossing, just south of our Temporary Outdoor Processing Site (TOPS) in the Chihuahuita area in El Paso, TX. In coordination with our partners with the Government of Mexico, we continue to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of all migrants who enter our custody.”
The Border Patrol said the El Paso Sector has averaged 1,990 migrant encounters since the new fiscal year began on Oct. 1.
“The high number … has required that we maintain an enhanced footprint with the TOPS,” the spokesman said, adding that border officials remain in communication with city and county leaders to ensure that joint efforts are maintained in managing the high number of migrants illegally entering between the ports of entry.
“CBP continues to safely, efficiently, and effectively process individuals at the border,” the statement read. “The U.S. Border Patrol in the El Paso Sector continues to expel migrants under title 42 authority, and those who cannot be removed under Title 42 and who do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States will be placed in deportation proceedings under the authority of Title 8.”