By Rocio Gallegos/La Verdad
CIUDAD JUÁREZ – Under tall shady trees, dozens of migrants spread blankets out on the grassy fields of Parque El Chamizal on the Mexican side of the Bridge of the Americas international crossing, setting up a makeshift camp as they wait to cross into the United States in search of asylum.
Although some say that they’re trying to schedule an appointment with the U.S. Border Patrol to submit an asylum application through the CBP One application, many others said they are looking to cross the border bypassing an appointment. Others have already crossed the bridge without an appointment, some said.
“We have been here since Sunday, they told us that we can sign up on a list and then we will be able to cross the bridge in groups,” said José Gregorio, a 42-year-old Venezuelan, who along with his wife is waiting his turn to turn himself in to U.S. border authorities.
Other migrants say they have been at the camp just feet from the state of Chihuahua’s regional office of the National Institute of Migration since Friday.
Street vendors in the area said that they began to notice the concentration of migrants in that area of the Chamizal a few days ago.
The migrants said they organized a register of asylum seekers interested in crossing the border without an appointment in groups of 20. Gregorio is Number 20 on one list. Until now, the first three groups of 20 people have gone to the U.S. side of the international bridge without an appointment, they said.
The concentration of migrants at Chamizal park is increasing. While there are some people from Honduras, Colombia and El Salvador, the majority come from Venezuela. There are men and women who traveled alone, but there are also families with children, and teenagers traveling alone have also set up camp at the park.
This new camp at the Chamizal comes almost a month since the end of Title 42 – the pandemic-era health policy that allowed for the immediate removal of migrants from various countries without allowing them to seek asylum – when the U.S. transitioned to the immigration laws under Title 8. It also comes just weeks after officials with the Juárez municipal government evicted migrants who had set up camp on the sidewalks around the city hall building close to the Mexican side of the Stanton Street bridge.
Cristina Coronado, coordinator of the Office of Mobility of the Diocese of Ciudad Juárez and of the soup kitchen for migrants in the cathedral, said she learned a few days ago that many of the migrants who arrive in the city go directly to the bridge to turn themselves in. She said there’s a climate of confusion among the migrants who arrive in Juárez, adding that cartels and coyotes continue to spread misinformation about border policies, putting migrants’ lives at risk.
Officials from the Border Patrol, as well as from Customs and Border Protection in El Paso told La Verdad that those who seek to migrate must do so through legal channels to avoid the risks that irregular migration entails.
“The CBP One mobile app represents the right way to do it,” the agencies responded.
In turn, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported on Tuesday that the number of migrant encounters at the border has decreased significantly since Title 42 ended.
Border Patrol has registered an average of 3,400 daily encounters with migrants between ports of entry across the U.S.-Mexico border since the end of Title 42 on May 12, DHS said in a press release. Another 300 who didn’t have appointments through the CBP One app were encountered at ports of entry daily, DHS said.
Veronica Martinez of La Verdad contributed to this report.