JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Juarez authorities late Monday bused dozens of Venezuelan migrants expelled from the United States to an emergency shelter – a move to prevent single adults and families with children from sleeping on the streets again.
“This is a humanitarian issue,” said City Secretary Hector Ortiz Orpinel. “We are again expecting low temperatures and they were out on the streets, so we will be offering them a temporary safe space.”
Ortiz said the rides to the shelter were voluntary; some police officers told reporters a few Venezuelans declined the offer despite overnight temperatures in the 40s, for fear they would be detained.
The migrants arrived in buses at a building in the San Lorenzo neighborhood previously used as an events center. They were welcomed with hot drinks and Mexican pastries. But lacking beds, the migrants sat on the concrete floor or lay on top of blankets.
Ortiz said 30 single women and moms with small children were accommodated in beds at two government shelters operating at full capacity. He said the new building would be available to Venezuelans for as long as the latest migrant emergency lasts.
Oscar Ibanez, the ranking Chihuahua state official in Juarez, said Mexican authorities have been informed by the U.S. federal government they will be expelling 200 migrants a day from El Paso, Texas, to Juarez until further notice.
“They have been sending Venezuelan migrants to us since October 12. The first day it was 130, the second day it was 200. That is the limit they have for Juarez: 200,” Ibanez said. “It is part of an accord with Mexico. They decided to expel 1,000 migrants per day through five ports in Mexico. Juarez is one of those ports.”
The expulsions of Venezuelans are part of a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security policy put in place after tens of thousands of South Americans came across in between ports of entry in late August, September and early October to request asylum. Their arrival overwhelmed processing centers in border cities like El Paso and forced local governments to step in after asylum-seekers were released onto the streets with a notice to appear in court.
Now DHS is offering 24,000 Venezuelans the chance to apply for asylum remotely and is vowing to expel any who cross the border illegally. Mexico has accepted to take in up to 24,000 Venezuelans expelled from the U.S., The Associated Press reported.
At that rate, Mexico would reach the cap in two weeks, though officials in Juarez said the expulsions tend to go down on weekends due to staffing issues on both sides of the border.
In addition to the 200 daily expulsions of Venezuelans, Juarez is taking in an undetermined number of daily Title 42 expulsions of Mexican and Central American citizens.
The mayor of Juarez also expects the continued arrival of Venezuelans who were already on the way to the border. He says they’ll stop coming when word reaches South America that the U.S. border is now closed to them.
Some U.S. immigration advocates said Venezuelans already in Mexico who cannot come into America through the asylum process will turn to smugglers and still try to get in. One advocate likened the new DHS program to a “big stick, little carrot.”