EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – U.S. officials on Friday sent hundreds of Venezuelan asylum seekers to Juarez, Mexico, as the Department of Homeland Security implemented a new policy making them eligible for Title 42 expulsions.
The migrants began walking over the Paso del Norte International Bridge from El Paso around 2 p.m. in groups of 50.
A KTSM/Border Report photo crew counted about 250 people in the space of an hour, escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to the middle of the bridge, then being monitored by Mexican immigration agents as they came down the structure.
All of the migrants questioned by reporters said they were from Venezuela. Some said they were taken by surprise by the sudden change in U.S. policy and had no idea what to do next.
“If the government was contemplating this change, they should have (told us) a long time ago. Many rented out their homes, pawned belongings; I got into a lot of debt in Venezuela,” said Julio Cesar Villalobos Tadora, one of the Venezuelans expelled on Friday. “What am I going to do? We spent a month on the trip, and now they’re deporting us in five minutes? No!”
Villalobos said the right thing to do for the United States would have been to place the asylum seekers it shot the doors on in airplanes bound for Venezuela.
Dozens of the migrants clustered at the Migrant Assistance Center near the bridge in Juarez, but said they were told migrant shelters in the city were full. Some of the migrants said they planned to camp near the bridge because they have no money for hotel rooms.
“Those who are here are going nowhere. Why? Because we don’t have a (dollar) on us, we have no shelter, we have no food, we have no clothes, we haven’t taken a shower in five days,” Villalobos said. “I will wait. How am I going to go to Venezuela, on foot? No.”
Juarez Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar told reporters he held a meeting on Friday with municipal, state and federal law enforcement officials to ensure any Venezuelans expelled to his city would be safe.
Chihuahua state Population Council Director Enrique Valenzuela also said his office would be providing expelled Venezuelans information regarding shelters.
The Catholic Diocese of El Paso on Thursday announced it was making a $100,000 donation to two Juarez shelters in anticipation of the Venezuelan expulsions.