Thousands of migrants in border towns await next steps after

Thousands of migrants in border towns await next steps after Title 42 ends – The New York Times

SAN DIEGO — A remarkable system of order has emerged in the massive refugee camp that sprung up this week on a patch of US soil between Tijuana and San Diego, even as fear and insecurity mount.

The Africans in the camp – from Ghana, Somalia, Kenya, Guinea, Nigeria – have a leader, a tall Somali man, who communicates with aid groups about how many blankets, diapers and sanitary napkins they need that day. The Colombians have their own leader, as do the Afghans, the Turks and the Haitians.

After pandemic-era migration restrictions expired Thursday night, residents at the camp here were stuck in the same queue as thousands of other migrants in towns along the border, having to make do with scant supplies of food and water provided by volunteers became the border guard.

Helpers on the US side go through metal bars through toilet paper rolls, bags of clementines, water bottles and toothbrush packages.

“Can we please get the leader from Jamaica!” Flower Alvarez-Lopez, a worker at the camp, called on Friday.

A woman in a sun hat and pink tie-dye shirt stuck her hand through the wall. Another woman in a hat pushed her full cheeks through the beams. “Can we get the leader out of Afghanistan!” Russia!”

As thousands of migrants arrived at the border this week before immigration restrictions known as Title 42 expired, frustration, desperation and resilience set in from place to place. And on Friday, hours after restrictions ended, the wait, uncertainty and determination lingered in place.

The thousands of migrants who have made it across the Rio Grande in recent days debated what to do next while thousands others in northern Mexico waited, trying to figure out how and when they too could cross the Rio Grande.

Officials in border towns also faced uncertainty as they tried to predict how the policy changes would play out.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser told reporters Friday that about 1,800 migrants entered the border town on Thursday. “We’ve seen a lot of people come to our area in the last week,” he said. But since Title 42 was lifted overnight, he said, “we haven’t seen big numbers.”

Shelter operators reported that it is too early to tell what might happen in the coming days as most people crossing the border are still being processed by the US government. But they, too, said that the biggest spikes in the transitions may have been passed.

“The number of people picked up from the river embankment on the other side of the wall yesterday was significant, but not nearly what everyone expected,” said Ruben Garcia, director of the Annunciation House, which helps migrants immigrate to the area from El Paso. “We’ll have to see what happens over the next few days. There are a lot of variables,” he said.

But although the numbers didn’t skyrocket on Friday, officials said border crossings had reached historically high levels in the days leading up to the end of Title 42. Sheriff Leon Wilmot of Yuma County, Arizona, said Border Patrol agents arrested about 1,500 people and detained about 4,000 on Thursday, the final day that Title 42 went into effect — a population that is the only charity in the city dedicated to it Dedicated to task, pressured to help migrants.

As hundreds of people were released from Yuma’s border camp on Friday, a fleet of charter buses stood idle in the parking lot of the nonprofit Regional Center for Border Health, waiting to take migrants to the airport or Phoenix. For weeks, the group has been filling around six buses with migrants every day. On Friday, 16 buses with about 800 migrants raced out of Yuma.

Over the past week, more than 11,000 people have been arrested on some days after illegally crossing the southern border. According to internal agency data from the New York Times, detention facilities run by border police are overwhelmed. About 7,000 people have been arrested on a typical day over the past two years; Officials think 8,000 or more arrests is a surge.

A person familiar with the situation said border police arrested fewer than 10,000 people who crossed the border illegally on Thursday, suggesting a sharp spike ahead of Title 42’s repeal.

Outside an animal shelter in McAllen, Texas, Ligia Garcia pondered her family’s next moves. She was elated to finally make it across the Rio Grande, but with no family in the United States and no money, they found themselves in the same situation as thousands of other migrants along the border with Mexico: waiting while they upon the kindness of strangers.

“We will seek help for now because we have no money and no choice,” said Ms Garcia, 31, a Venezuelan migrant who is carrying her six-month-old son Roime near the Catholic Charities’ bulging shelter. “It was a great sacrifice to come here,” she said, describing how she and her husband, with their two children, traveled through the jungles of Central America and then Mexico to reach Texas. “But it was worth it. We’re in America.”

While Mexicans and Central Americans have for decades made up the majority of migrants seeking to enter the United States, Venezuelans have been crossing the southern border in increasing numbers, recently dwarfing migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

However, because large-scale immigration from Venezuela is a relatively new phenomenon, Venezuelans often lack networks of relatives or friends who can assist them in the United States, and often arrive with only the clothes that wear them, like Ms. Garcia Migrant in McAllen.

“I’ve been doing this for over 45 years. I’ve never seen a population as challenging as Venezuelans because so many of them don’t have people in the United States to receive them,” said Garcia, who runs the Annunciation House in El Paso.

Meanwhile, migrants were looking for information. Olinex Casseus, 58, sat with his wife and daughter on the sidewalk in Piedras Negras, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, on Friday morning while he repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to make an asylum appointment with U.S. migration agents through the CBP’s app .

“We want to make everything completely legal,” said Mr. Casseus, who fled Haiti for Puebla, Mexico, after the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. He said he hopes to start a new life in Miami if they can cross the border. “But now everything is delayed and the rules keep changing,” he added. “I think that means we keep waiting.”

In the camp between San Diego and Tijuana, needs and tensions began to mount in recent days. About 1,000 people jumped an inter-city barrier in the past week, and most remained stuck behind another wall while awaiting processing by US officials. The area between the two border walls is technically on US soil, but is considered no man’s land.

With nights getting uncomfortably cold for hundreds of people who sleep outside, blankets are the most sought-after item of clothing. But since there aren’t enough of them, volunteers have tried to limit donations to families with young children.

On Thursday night, as blankets were being distributed, migrants began yelling at each other, believing a group was taking blankets for people who didn’t have young children. The helpers intervened to stop the fighting.

“People are cold, hungry, desperate, destitute, nervous,” said Adriana Jasso, a volunteer with the American Friends Service Committee.

A Colombian man wearing a tattered blue hoodie arrived with his family at the camp Friday morning after smugglers led them through a hole in the wall on the Mexico side. Seeing the Mylar sheet tents spread across the camp and the rows of migrants sprawled on the dirt, he was unsure how to secure food or tarps for construction.

He approached Ms. Alvarez-Lopez and asked for supplies. “Go and look for Jesus,” she told him, apparently referring to a fellow migrant, and he walked away angrily. “My only Jesus is up there,” he said, pointing to heaven.

Eileen Sullivan and Jack Healy contributed coverage.