Images of migrants wrapped in blankets and sleeping on the streets of El Paso in freezing temperatures have raised welfare concerns as they circulated online this week amid a surge of people arriving in the west Texan city.
Over the last few days, thousands of migrants, including many hailing from Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, huddled along the waters of the Rio Grande, while others waded across the river from El Paso’s sister city on the Mexican side of the border, Ciudad Juarez, to cross into the US.
Videos posted online show many migrants lying on the ground at the El Paso section of the border as they await entry to the US. Some have started fires to stay warm in makeshift camps on the riverbank as temperatures dropped below freezing this week.
One video captured by Fox News shows dozens of migrants wrapped in thin blankets, including issued by the Red Cross, as they slept on the streets of downtown El Paso because the strain on shelter beds has been acute as all those available were full. Several people had old cardboard boxes folded into tents to give a modicum of protection from the cold.
Images have also surfaced online of blankets, coats and other belongings abandoned on the Rio Grande bank because many migrants who hand themselves to US federal agents are only allowed to take a small bag of belongings into custody with them.
Many of the migrants who crossed into El Paso this week were part of a group that was kidnapped in Mexico.
Testimony from nine migrants to Reuters suggests there were multiple kidnappings across several days in the northern state of Durango, with people taken to at least two main locations and held against their will while ransoms were demanded.
Most of the kidnapped migrants were Nicaraguans, who have been leaving their homeland in growing numbers to claim asylum and pursue better economic opportunities in the US, encouraged by the knowledge they are unlikely to be immediately deported due to frosty relations between their government and Washington.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune, one migrant, a Nicaraguan fisherman, recounted how he was prepared to spend the night in a parking garage along with several other migrants when a El Paso resident invited him and a few others into her home for the night.
“I feel great, I feel happy because I know God is going to help me,” 46-year-old Victor Wilson said, explaining that his plan is to head to Florida for better fishing opportunities.
Wilson told the Texas Tribune that he took a 43-mile boat ride from his island to the country’s mainland, then a charter bus to Guatemala, and then another bus into southern Mexico before reaching the border.
With the expiration of the Trump-era Title 42 due on 21 December, that has blocked hundreds of thousands of migrants during the pandemic, irregular immigration at the US-Mexico border is expected to surge to 5,000 people arriving in El Paso every day – double the number of people who are estimated to have arrived in the city at the weekend, surprising inhabitants.
“That’s 150,000 coming through in a single month, and that’s where the federal government and the state will need to help us,” the El Paso mayor, Oscar Leeser, told reporters.
story by The Texas Tribune Source link