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ABC-7 embedded with migrants attempting to cross into U.S.

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Thousands of migrants arrive at the U.S. border with Mexico every day. ABC-7 embedded with a group of migrants on Monday morning as they desperately looked for a way to cross the Rio Grande.

The group of about 600 said they had disembarked a train from southern Mexico that morning and walked up through Juarez to the Rio Grande.

“The train, the beast, brought us here, it is the safest way to travel these days to avoid extortions or the cartels,” Hector, a Venezuelan migrant who asked us not to use his last name, said.

Hector had been traveling for two months with his four sons, ages 12, 13, 16 and 18, when we spoke to him. The boys' mother died years ago in Venezuela. He said they decided to leave their country after three years of struggling to make ends meet.

“You can’t make it, you just can’t live like that in Venezuela. I get paid $40 or $50 U.S. dollars a week but in order to get enough food for all of us I spend $200,” he said.

As we spent time with the family, Hector looked increasingly more confused about where to cross the river. He started asking around but no one seemed to have an answer. He and his four kids were carrying a large bottle of water to keep hydrated.

“Does anyone know how to get across? Is there a way or do we need to go under (the razor wire)?,” he asked.

He decided to try his luck along with a group of a dozen others who tried to put a blanket over the wire to avoid getting hurt. Their efforts, however, turned out unsuccessful. Some of the migrants became stuck on the wire. They turned back and decided to walk east to try crossing at another spot.

We also spoke to Andrea, a Venezuelan migrant who was traveling with her dog, Lucca. She said her dog was like her son and that she would never leave him.

“Sometimes I have to sacrifice my own food or water to feed him," she told us. "He is always first." Andrea had all of Lucca's paperwork: vaccination card, microchip and a letter from a veterinarian back in Venezuela.

“What will you do if he is not allowed in?,” we asked.

“I will stay in Mexico. I am not leaving him,” she said emotionally.

When Andrea and her family tried crossing the river, she had to throw Lucca to her relatives several times to keep him from drowning. The family stopped under a tree to rest in the shade. Then they continued their journey.

A few hours later we met another Venezuelan family. They traveled with a 2-year-old girl. They found a creative way to cross through the razor wire: a piece of cardboard placed underneath the wire.

The father went first. He crawled under the wire using two sheets of cardboard, but even so, he got stuck. After a few minutes of struggling he made it through. Then one of his daughters followed his instructions and made it across.

Then it was the turn of his wife and his two year old daughter. The mother crawled under the cardboards and put her daughter under her belly. But right in the middle they got stuck. The girl's arm got stuck on the wire and her father had to pull the girl from her mother's arms.

As they all finally made it through, a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer arrived. He order them to go back through the razor wire.

“Where can we cross from?,” one of the girls asked.

“Go back!” the officer replied.

The family had to return under the water using the same technique. After a few minutes they were all back were they started, frustrated and tired. 

“We will keep walking and see if there is a way in,” the mother said before she started to cry.

Every day thousands like this family arrive at the border in hopes they will be allowed in to the United States to start a new life. Authorities, however, say they are still sending back the vast majority of migrants.

In May, President Joe Biden ordered the end of Title 42, the public health emergency order reinstated by President Donald Trump that allowed immigration authorities to immediately expel asylum seekers rather than grant them the hearing to which they are entitled under U.S. and international law.

The announcement made tens of thousands of migrants arrive at the border believing the border was open, but they found even more strict policies like Title 8. Over the next couple of months, the numbers steadily decreased but starting in August the numbers began increasing again, this time fueled by misinformation shared online by smuggler networks.

This week the number of migrant crossings surpassed 8,600 over a 24-hour period, according to the Department of Homeland Security official figures. That’s up from around 3,500 daily border arrests after the expiration of Title 42 in May.

Luis Chaparro is ABC-7's reporter for the Puente News Collaborative, a partnership among local media outlets bringing in-depth border reporting to the Borderland.

Article Topic Follows: Puente News Collaborative
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Luis Chaparro


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