Juan Mendez III, the Brownsville mayor known as Trey, said that even as his community faces power outages and the pandemic, it can help migrants continue their journey to relatives in the United States to continue their cause. to put. The number of migrants released in the city so far pales compared to 2019, when hundreds of families were dropped off at the local bus station every day.
"If it's a few hundred overnight that would be overwhelming for us," said Mr. Mendez, adding that the coronavirus positivity rate among the released migrants hovers around 10 percent to 15 percent, compared with 25 percent for the Brownsville community in large. "The administration is well aware of that – we've conveyed that on numerous occasions."
On Saturday, border agents dropped off a dozen migrants, all mothers and small children, outside the Brownsville bus station. Some said they were detained beyond the 72-hour limit that border agents can detain children. Within minutes, a team of city officials and volunteers had started setting up a station to test for the coronavirus. In a negative test, they were allowed to enter the station to continue their journey. When they tested positive, the volunteers used donations to pay for their quarantine at a local hotel – although this was not required. Within three hours, the number of migrants at the station grew to about 50.
Doris, a mother of two boys who has fled an abusive ex-partner in Guatemala in recent weeks and crossed the border, did not expect to get tests, blankets or coloring books for her children when she was dropped off Saturday.
"They are very good people," she said of the city staff and the volunteers.
A similar effort is being made in Matamoros. On the north side of the encampment, which can accommodate about 1,000 migrants, authorities are putting the finishing touches to a marquee where migrant families are tested for the coronavirus before entering the United States. Red Cross volunteers wandered around a camp that was neglected for months by both the Mexican and US governments.
A Honduran named Walter Lara, who had lived in the camp since November 2019, was so excited at the prospect of entering the United States that he asked another asylum seeker to give him a haircut for the occasion. He was willing to be patient.
"We believe in the process that will happen," said Mr. Lara.
Elsewhere confusion reigned. Those stranded by "staying in Mexico" struggled to register through the administration's online system and were frustrated that newcomers were being released across the border, Ms. D’Cruz said.