EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The mayor of Juarez says he will open a new municipal shelter to ensure migrants from Venezuela are not staying on city streets, as it happened on Sunday.
“We want to open a new refuge because the one we have is full,” Juarez Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar said on Monday during a visit to the Mexican consulate in El Paso. “We are asking for the support of our state and federal governments to respond to this contingency.”
The Department of Homeland Security last Wednesday shut the door on Venezuelans who had been coming over from Mexico to request asylum and being released into the U.S. pending court dates. DHS unveiled a program to legally admit up to 24,000 Venezuelans who meet certain requirements and apply remotely. Those crossing the border illegally are now subject to Title 42 expulsions.
This means Juarez is now receiving hundreds of Venezuelans expelled from the United States every day while fielding new arrivals from the south.
“We hope this new policy by the U.S. government reduces the flow. Word had gotten out that (the U.S.) was transporting migrants to other cities in the United States. This generated a surge: people heard about it and were coming over,” Perez Cuellar said. “Things will probably get better in the next few days [….] But very likely there are still people on the way.”
Some Venezuelans expelled to Juarez under Title 42 said they were under the impression that the United States was “inviting” them to come north.
“We’re telling people not to turn themselves in” to the U.S. Border Patrol, said Jorge, a Venezuelan standing in disbelief on the Mexican banks of the Rio Grande after getting expelled to Juarez. “This is a sham. The president of the United States told Venezuelans to come. [….] We came here before the announcement. We were detained and they expelled us.”
Daniela, who was expelled from the U.S. along with her children ages 5 and 9, also thought she was going to be released and able to start a new life in America. Instead, they spent the night huddled by the side of a building in Juarez as temperatures dropped to 50 degrees.
“I arrived before (the DHS) announcement. I was over there on Monday, and they did not announce the new law until Wednesday. Still, they expelled us (on Sunday),” the Venezuelan national said. “Last night was horrible with the cold. It was horrible.”
Joseph Muñoz, a Venezuelan who left his country three years ago because of the bad economy and political favoritism, said he has no plans to go back home now that he reached the U.S. border.
“Last night it was cold, and it was rainy,” Muñoz said. “Many of us here don’t have money to return to Venezuela, or to Ecuador, where my family lives. We sold everything to be able to come here, and when we arrived, they shut the doors on us.”
All of the Venezuelans interviewed by Border Report on Monday say they have neither the money nor the desire to return to Venezuela. They said they will remain in Juarez, exploring their options to enter the United States.
Perez Cuellar said his city, despite its limited means, will continue to welcome migrants – whether it’s internally displaced Mexicans looking for jobs or foreigners just passing through. However, he said Washington, D.C., and Mexico City often make decisions that affect border cities without consulting border residents.
“Juarez is a very generous city. It has always welcomed migrants. But there are (situations) that can be prevented,” he said. “The dialogue that takes place at the federal level also should include local governments like Juarez and El Paso. [….] The (DHS announcement) was surprising. Everything has taken us by surprise. First that they would come and get transportation, then suddenly that the flow would stop. All of it has been a surprise to us.”