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Migrants break past human wall, vehicle barriers in Juárez to get to U.S. side of Rio Grande

by Puente News Collaborative, El Paso Matters
October 4, 2023

By Blanca Carmona / La Verdad

Ciudad Juárez – Hundreds of migrants spent the night stranded on a strip of land and overgrown grass between the Rio Grande and the concertina wire fence installed by the Texas National Guard on Tuesday waiting to enter the United States to request asylum.

Hundreds more camped along the border wall in front of Gate 36 near Fonseca Drive, including men, women, teenagers, young boys and girls, some in their parent’s arms.

Most arrived at the border by train and managed to get around an operation deployed Tuesday by Mexico’s National Migration Institute in conjunction with the municipal police and the Mexican National Guard. Carrying batons and firearms, officers from the various agencies set up a human chain and lined their vehicles along the river to prevent migrants from crossing into the United States.

But a large group of migrants rushed past them, and once on U.S. territory, set up makeshift camps next to the concertina wire fence waiting to be allowed to continue toward the border wall and request asylum.

Large groups of migrants got past rows of law enforcement agents and vehicles in Juarez and crossed the Rio Grande on Tuesday. Many camped out along the concertina wire fencing put up by the Texas National Guard. (Rey R. Jauregui / La Verdad)

“We took the risk and crossed the Rio Grande, and the only thing we need is to cross the barbed wire here,” said a Venezuelan migrant who arrived in Juárez by train on Tuesday and managed to get past hundreds of Mexican police and immigration agents. “We have to wait now for what happens, for the Americans to authorize the crossing on the other side.”

Arriving by train

The police operation was carried out a few hours after hundreds of migrants arrived at the Juárez border aboard the cargo train managed by Ferromex. 

At about 1:30 p.m., dozens of migrants, primarily Venezuelans, got off the train cars after having traveled for days. The majority headed directly to the river, following rumors that they could surrender to the U.S. Border Patrol there.

Instead, they encountered the human wall of law enforcement agents.

“They don't let us cross to that side. The Mexican authorities don't let us cross. … If we move to one side, they move with us. If we turn back, then they do it too," said Gleaner Cisneros, who boarded the train in Torreón, Coahuila, along with his wife, his two brothers and their wives.

Units from the Juarez police, Mexican National Guard and Mexico's migration institute form a human wall and line up vehicles along the Rio Grande in Juarez on Tuesday in an attempt to keep migrants from crossing into El Paso. (Rey R. Jauregui / La Verdad)

The operation was led by Manuel Alfonzo Marín Salazar, head of the migration institute in Chihuahua, who in statements to journalists said that the strong police presence was intended to ensure migration would be carried out in an orderly manner. The statement also said law enforcement agents sought to bring migrants to a shelter to prevent them from spending the night next to the Rio Grande.

Juárez police officials in a press release said they participated in the operation to support migration institute personnel.

Migrants said they use the train because it’s economical and are less likely not to be returned to southern Mexico by migration institute personnel – and they feel safer traveling in large numbers.

Migrants arrive in Juarez on top of train cars on Tuesday. (Alicia Fernandez / La Verdad)

“Thank goodness the train stopped and we had to board there because if it hadn't, it would have been quite hard. I have two children,” said Maricarmen Tovar, adding that she wants to get to Washington where her husband is waiting for her.

Another migrant, Orlando Cisneros, said boarding the train was a risk he had to take.

“It was an incredible journey, my friend,” he said. “We barely boarded the train and a group of Mexicans, unfortunately, not all of them are bad, but a group of bad Mexicans got together. and they robbed us. They stole my cell phone, my backpack, everything. The only thing I have with me is what you see there, which is food. … The journey was tough, but I think it will be worth it.”

The migrants said they rode the slow-moving train for about 17 hours, adding that some authorities tried to force them to get off before they reached this border.

This article first appeared on El Paso Matters and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Article Topic Follows: Puente News Collaborative

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