What we know about the migrant caravan waiting at the Texas-Mexico border

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Central American immigrants line up for breakfast at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as “asylum […]

What we know about the migrant caravan waiting at the Texas-Mexico border” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

For the sixth straight day since arriving at the Texas-Mexico border, roughly 1,600 Central American migrants intent on seeking asylum in the U.S. are playing a frustrating waiting game in Mexico.

The migrants, who are mostly Honduran, are being housed in a former warehouse in Piedras Negras — and being guarded by Mexican law enforcement — while they wait to be let into the U.S.

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are only able to process about 20 of the migrants a day, CNN reported, meaning progress is exceedingly slow and tensions are high. Only a limited number of the migrants who have been given humanitarian visas by the Mexican government can leave the makeshift shelter; some others have asked to be returned to their home countries, the AP reported.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has joined the U.S. Border Patrol in stationing agents in Eagle Pass, Texas — on the banks of the north side of the Rio Grande. They’re meant to deter any migrants who might choose to cross the river instead of waiting their turn in Mexico.

“As part of our border security plan we keep DPS on the border with boats & planes. They work with local & federal authorities to enforce the law,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted alongside a picture of the law enforcement buildup.

State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, said the agencies’ show of force so far has had the desired effect: to promote order and prevent a large number of migrants from crossing the river.

Nevárez, who chairs the Texas House Committee on Homeland Security, was in Eagle Pass on Friday for a briefing that also included U.S. Border Patrol, the Texas Department of Homeland Security and local officials. He said he expected parts of the migrant caravan to splinter off and try to cross the river if U.S. authorities continue processing applicants at the current pace.

“The longer you stay over there, you become prey,” Nevárez said, referring to the omnipresent criminal gangs that go after migrants in Mexican border towns. “That desperation will lead them to not wait to see if they are one of the 10 or 15 or 20 that cross a day.”

It’s unclear how long the Mexican government will be able to provide for the large group or if officials there will begin to deport some of the asylum-seekers back to Central America.

Moises Santos Canales, 17, of La Ceiba, Atlantida, Honduras, has been detained at the migrant shelter in Piedras Negras for a week. “We are not delinquents,” he said. “When we go out to buy food, they escort us with police. We don’t have anything. I just want to work in the U.S. and send money to my grandmother in Honduras.”

The latest caravan has caught the attention of President Donald Trump. He referenced the group during Tuesday’s State of the Union address as he explained why he continues to push Congress to fund his long-promised border barrier.

His administration has deployed 250 active-duty military personnel to Eagle Pass to assist in border-security operations.

A U.S. border patrol agent stands at the limit of the U.S. and Mexico border in Eagle Pass. Concertina wire can be seen to the left of the officer. Feb. 8, 2019.
A U.S. border patrol agent stands at the limit of the U.S. and Mexico border in Eagle Pass. Concertina wire can be seen to the left of the officer. Feb. 8, 2019. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune
Mexican police and military line the exterior of the shelter currently holding an estimated 1700 migrants. According to the Ministry of Public Security of Coahuila, Josà Luis Pliego, the situation in Piedras Negras is under control, but the shelters are at capacity. ìWe have all six of the shelters in Piedras Negras at maximum capacity. This shelter is also at maximum capacity. This shelter was built specifically for the caravan.î  Feb. 9, 2019.
Mexican police and military line the exterior of the shelter currently holding an estimated 1700 migrants. According to the Ministry of Public Security of Coahuila, Josà Luis Pliego, the situation in Piedras Negras is under control, but the shelters are at capacity. ìWe have all six of the shelters in Piedras Negras at maximum capacity. This shelter is also at maximum capacity. This shelter was built specifically for the caravan.î Feb. 9, 2019. Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune
Moises Santos Canales, 17, of La Ceiba Antlantida, Honduras, has been detained at the migrant shelter in Piedras Negras for a week. He previously spent five months in Tapachula, near the Mexico and Guatemala border. When asked about the caravan, Canales stated, ìWe are not delinquents. When we go out to buy food, they escort us with police. We donít have anything. I just want to work in the U.S. and send money to my grandmother in Honduras.î Feb 9, 2019.
Moises Santos Canales, 17, of La Ceiba Antlantida, Honduras, has been detained at the migrant shelter in Piedras Negras for a week. He previously spent five months in Tapachula, near the Mexico and Guatemala border. When asked about the caravan, Canales stated, ìWe are not delinquents. When we go out to buy food, they escort us with police. We donít have anything. I just want to work in the U.S. and send money to my grandmother in Honduras.î Feb 9, 2019. Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune
Texas State Troopers and U.S. border patrol vehicles park along the banks of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass. Feb 9, 2019.
Texas State Troopers and U.S. border patrol vehicles park along the banks of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass. Feb 9, 2019. Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Scenes from Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, just across the border from Texas, on Feb. 8 and 9, 2019. Miguel Gutierrez/The Texas Tribune

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/02/08/migrant-caravan-eagle-pass-border-patrol/.

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