JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Juarez shelters operators are worried about a possible spike in expulsions of Haitians, Nicaraguans and Cubans who try to skirt the U.S. government’s new remote asylum application program.
The Department of Homeland Security on January 6 began requiring citizens from those countries to secure an American sponsor, complete an online request and to not approach the U.S. border until called. The program is like one applied to Venezuelan nationals since October 12.
Shelters like Good Samaritan near the foothills of Juarez are at capacity because of the steady stream of Venezuelans who have been expelled from the U.S. since mid-October.
“Right now, we are full. We have no space,” shelter director the Rev. Juan Fierro said. “We will open a new space for families next month, but even then, we will not have the capacity to receive so many people.”
Border Report on Tuesday canvassed government shelters and public places like the Paso del Norte International Bridge where migrants congregate but could not find any recently expelled Haitians, Cubans or Nicaraguans.
But a Border Report/KTSM camera crew captured the expulsion of a large group of Venezuelan nationals over one of the international bridges between Juarez and El Paso.
“My position is that the President (Biden) not do this and help us, instead,” said Julio Marquez, a Venezuelan migrant apprehended after going over the border wall in El Paso. “We are a lot of persons, a lot of men, who are coming for a better future. We have our children in Venezuela […] We need the support of the president and of the president of Mexico so we can provide for our children. They will not be able to buy clothes this year.”
Other expelled Venezuelans said they are fearful of getting caught trying to cross the border again and being expelled not to Juarez just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, but to remote Mexican border towns that tend to bus foreign nationals to Mexico City or to migrant detention facilities near the border with Guatemala.
“We need help so (U.S.) Immigration does not deport us far from Juarez,” said Jefferson, another expelled Venezuelan. “We need help […] We need them to walk in our shoes, the shoes of the Venezuelan migrants.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seen a sharp decrease in migrant apprehensions in the past three weeks as word spreads in Latin America that the U.S. Supreme Court is leaving Title 42 expulsions in place possibly through June.
But Juarez officials familiar with the migrant situation say few expelled Venezuelans are going back home. El Paso City Council member Isabel Salcido shared a similar observation in a December 29 letter urging President Joe Biden to work on immigration reform.
“I’ve spoken to asylum-seekers and migrants waiting in Juarez, Mexico and I can assure you, most of them are not returning to their home countries,” she said in the letter. “They would rather risk their lives in Mexico and the streets of El Paso, than return home, so this crisis is not going away.”
That is what worries Fierro, a Methodist pastor who leads Juarez’s second-largest church-run migrant shelter. If few Venezuelans are leaving and Haitians, Nicaraguans and Cubans start coming in, resources will be stretched even thinner.
“If they do it in an orderly manner and the flows are quick – as some (are expelled), some are taken in – then that movement will allow us to take care of so many migrants who might come or who are already on the border,” he said.