Migrants bide their time waiting to cross border
They say it’s a slow process but worth wait
PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico – Freddie Valdez doesn’t have a specific location in mind. Anywhere in the U.S. is better than home.
The Honduran citizen left home more than 20 days ago. He walked, hitchhiked and eventually got on a bus to make his way to Piedras Negras, directly across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas.
He was part of the caravan of 1,800 migrants seeking asylum Thursday. They arrived at the border town Monday.
“I want a better life for my family; back home the situation was bad,” he said. “It was too dangerous.”
He plans to wait his turn, as long as it takes to get his permit to get into the U.S. Then he will send for his family to join him. U.S. officials said Wednesday they can process about 16 asylum seekers daily.
Honduras is plagued with violent crime, and its murder rate remains the highest in the world despite being drastically curbed in recent years, according to Human Rights Watch.
Throughout the day, buses were loaded with people opting to self-deport back to Honduras.
The fenced compound holding the migrants is about a 20-minute drive from the border and was once a factory. Mexican police with riot gear stand watch along the perimeter.
Some migrants, mostly the men, stand at the barricades, some sleep on blankets or chairs while kids do crafts at a nearby table or play soccer and other games in the courtyard.
Earlier last week, on the U.S. side of the border, about 500 Texas state troopers, 50 reserve deputies from across the state and 250 active duty military were dispatched to the area around Eagle Pass in response to the influx of migrants in Piedras Negras.
Alvaro Miranda held up his phone showing a photo of injuries, his arms bruised from a confrontation with a gang in El Salvador.
Like others, he joined the caravan to seek asylum for a chance to find a better life, he said in Spanish to a translator.
The caravan started in Honduras, but along the way people from Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador joined. Miranda said the caravan was organized by someone they knew as “Carlos,” but he was deported before they reached Piedras Negras.
Miranda said they came to the Texas border instead of northern Mexico ports like Tijuana because they felt there were likely fewer migrants in Piedras Negras, making it a safer port to seek asylum.
Miranda said the migrants didn’t know they would be detained for processing for so long.
He said one of the problems is the lack of communication and orderly way to process the migrants. Each person was given a wristband with a number, yet the immigration officers are not calling people in numerical order, he said.
“I’m number 897 and I will wait patiently if I knew there were 897 before me, but it seems to be who woke up first in the morning or a random person they pick,” he said.
Leaning in on the yellow fence, the men standing with Miranda agree. Going back is not an option for them. Asylum is worth the wait.
Central American migrants stand inside a former factory in Piedras Negras, Mexico. About 1,800 arrived in this border city on Monday.