JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – El Paso’s Venezuelan humanitarian crisis is quickly becoming Juarez’s nightmare, as hundreds of expelled migrants huddling on the streets were rushed inside government offices Sunday night due to plummeting temperatures.
More than 150 people, mostly Venezuelan nationals, slept on the floor of the Migrant Assistance Center in Juarez on Sunday night because all the city’s shelters were full, said Enrique Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua Population Council that runs the center.
The facility consists of offices on the second floor of a government complex where migrants receive information about shelters and resources; it has no beds and was not intended as a shelter, Valenzuela said.
Juarez police also discouraged people from remaining outdoors as the temperature dropped to 50 degrees overnight. That’s a significant drop from just a few nights ago when overnight lows were in the 60-65 degree range, KTSM Meteorologist Robert Bettes said.
“We have to wait here. Imagine all we went through only to have to go back. I prefer to stay here and wait for a solution,” said Rosimar, a Venezuelan migrant who came to Juarez with her husband and son, intent on seeking asylum in the U.S. “The idea is that they again open the doors to us, at least those of us who arrived here before October 12.”
Venezuelans since last Thursday have been expelled to Juarez, as the Biden administration stopped welcoming those who crossed in between ports of entry and announced a remote registration program to legally admit up to 24,000 of them.
The announcement came as El Paso city and county officials stretched their resources to make sure released migrants did not end up sleeping on the streets.
In the El Paso Sector in September and October alone, border agents have encountered more than 20,000 Venezuelans who came over from Mexico. The city set up a welcoming center run by the Office of Emergency Management and provided food, hotel rooms and buses out of town for released migrants. Local governments are asking the Biden administration to reimburse them for those expenses.
Juarez has some 20 migrant shelters housing nearly 3,000 migrants as of Sunday night, Valenzuela said. However, most are small, church-run facilities; only the Leona Vicario federal government shelter, the Kiki Romero municipal gym, Casa del Migrante and Good Samaritan can house large numbers.
On Friday a KTSM/Border Report photo crew witnessed hundreds of migrants – most of them identifying to Mexican authorities at the Paso del Norte Bridge as Venezuelans – being sent over to Mexico in the space of just over an hour. Mexican immigration authorities quickly released the expelled migrants, telling the Venezuelans they had 15 days to leave their country.
On Monday morning, dozens of people who later identified themselves as Venezuelan and Colombian migrants crossed the Rio Grande into the United States but stopped a few feet from the border wall.
The single adults could be heard talking among themselves as to whether to surrender to the U.S. Border Patrol and ask for asylum or go back to Mexico to ponder their next move. Many ended up walking back to Juarez and yelled at other people about to cross the river to stay on the Mexican side – for now.