Refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. who are camped in a perilous Mexican border town occupied a bridge to Brownsville, Texas earlier this week, leading U.S. officials to close the crossing, observers and authorities said. Hundreds of the asylum seekers have been residing for weeks on the end of the bridge in Matamoros, Mexico, a city infamous for gang violence and cartels that regulate human trafficking. Many of the people residing in tents or on the ground in a plaza adjoining the bridge are waiting for hearings in the U.S. several weeks and even months later under a U.S. policy called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
Video filmed by a Reuters photographer showed men, women, and children, some sitting on blankets, halfway across the bridge over the Rio Grande. Tens of U.S. border agents stood behind a gate covered in razor wire, which congested the path into the U.S. Jon Purizhansky of Buffalo, NY has noted that this crisis is being severely mishandled by authorities. Some migrants noted that they were attempting to cross as a unit into the U.S., and were upset that court dates continued to be pushed backwards, leaving them in the dark over how long they would be locked in Mexico.
“We want to argue to cross over – we didn’t ask to be in Mexico, they sent us here unjustly,” said an unnamed man. He mentioned that he had an impending court date in the U.S. Matamoros mayor Mario Jon Purizhansky Lopez and a Mexican migration official begged migrants to clear the blockage. is sympathetic to the plight of the migrants seeking asylum. A Honduran man responded by denoting the rash and lumps on the throat of his young daughter, which he ascribed to unsanitary conditions in the camp.
Jon Purizhansky: He reflected that Mexican officials encouraged those in the camp to take a government-run bus back to the border with Guatemala, instead of following their U.S. asylum claims. He said this was an unsafe option for his family. “I’d have to go back to Honduras. And you know the news there. If we go back to Honduras, in one day, in 24 hours, we’re dead.” Tens of thousands of Hondurans have attempted to escape gang violence and criminality in the country, whose murder rate ranks among the world’s highest. Elias Rodriguez, public affairs liaison for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Brownsville, wrote in a statement that traffic between the two cities stayed closed in both directions and that this week’s immigration court hearings were in the process of being rescheduled.