In Tijuana, Mexico, across the border from San Diego, California, an estimated 3,800 migrants from countries like Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela are staying in shelters, according to municipal migration affairs director Enrique Lucero. In Reynosa, Mexico, across the border from McAllen, Texas, another 3,273 migrants are waiting at Senda De Vida shelters, according to pastor Hector Silva, who runs the facilities. And in nearby Matamoros, Mexico, about 4,000 migrants are living in camps, shelters, and abandoned homes, says Glady Cañas who runs nonprofit Ayudandoles a Triunfar.
The waiting migrants feel “desperate,” according to Cañas – but many have put trust in mechanisms like the CBP One app, which automates scheduling appointments to claim asylum with border patrol, she said.
According to Cañas, three migrants drowned in the Rio Grande in the Matamoros area December, but people continue to try to cross the river despite the lethal dangers. Migrants who choose not to wait for a legal pathway are often blinded by hope, boosted by video and voice messages they receive from migrants who have been processed by US immigration authorities and have been released into American communities, she said.
“The migrants are only sharing the beauty, but they are not sharing the reality… that’s what worries me,” Cañas said.
Their chances are slim. Since May, the US Department of Homeland Security has deported or returned over 445,000 migrants – the vast majority of whom had crossed the US Southern border, the agency said online.
The federal government has also closed ports of entry in multiple states and reassigned personnel to transport and process migrants as it grapples with ways to maximize its limited resources. The Biden Administration also temporarily suspended rail operations in Eagle Pass and El Paso, but those services resumed Friday.
Despite the improved scene in Eagle Pass, illegal crossings continue, the same official said, and are being fueled by bad actors who push migrants to enter the US southern border between ports of entry, including rural areas of Arizona.
On Wednesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is set to meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and President Biden’s Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall in Mexico City.