JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – A steady trickle of women with children and single adults crossed the Rio Grande from Juarez to El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday.
This happened a day after U.S. Federal District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C., ordered the Biden administration to stop using the Title 42 public health order to expel migrants to Mexico. The same judge early Wednesday gave the administration five weeks to comply with his order.
Some of the migrants who walked across the river early Wednesday left the Venezuelan tent camp on the Mexican banks, but most were Nicaraguans and Central Americans who had been staying elsewhere, according to people at the camp.
Jose Correa, a Venezuelan who cut his trip short to the United States after the Biden administration on Oct. 12 made asylum-seekers from that South American country amenable to Title 42 expulsions, said he’s staying put until he is sure border agents will not expel him if he crosses the Rio Grande.
“We are seeing that some people are going across, but we want to wait for the opportunity to cross with the law on our side, with permission from them,” Correa said, referring to the border agents standing guard on the U.S. side of the river.
Crossing the border between ports of entry is unlawful – even U.S. citizens can get fined for doing so. But once across, an asylum-seeker not amenable to Title 42 expulsion can state a claim, be processed and possibly be released with a notice to appear in court at later date. Several hundred migrants who obtained parole have been released onto the streets of El Paso this month, in addition to many others being released to shelters or processed at the county’s Migrant Services Center.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection data shows 53,284 unauthorized migrants were apprehended in the El Paso Sector in October. Of those, 35,909 were processed under Title 8 and 17,375 were expelled under Title 42.
The Department of Homeland Security says it will continue to apply Title 42 expulsions for the time being.
“The United States will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws at our border,” DHS said in a statement announcing its request to the federal judge to a stay on his order. “The delay in implementation of the court’s order will allow the government to prepare for an orderly transition to new policies at the border. But to be clear, under the unopposed motion, Title 42 would remain in place for some period.”
Mexican authorities have tried to persuade the hundreds of Venezuelans at the tent camp to go to shelters. But even with temperatures dropping near freezing, camp residents are refusing to leave.
“We will wait the five weeks or six weeks. We just need help so the weather won’t affect us so much,” Correa said. “The food is not a problem, but the temperature is. We have families with children, elderly and people with mobility issues. We have many people like that.”