EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Juarez officials are expressing heightened concern with the migrants staying at a tent camp on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande for the past month.
At a Monday morning news conference, Juarez Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar said the city would not install temporary bathrooms or showers for the 900 or so Venezuelan migrants who can be seen bathing and washing clothes on the river. Further, the mayor said the city will close a temporary shelter for Venezuelan migrants in the San Lorenzo neighborhood later this week because of “anarchy” on the part of the guests.
“We have an issue because they’re not observing the same rules that we have at all the other shelters of (what time) they can come in or go out,” Perez Cuellar said on Monday.
The mayor says the city is offering the Venezuelans rides to a federal government shelter but that the migrants refuse to move. He said he is concerned for the health of the Venezuelans given that overnight temperatures have dropped to near-freezing at times.
Earlier, an official with the Mexican Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission told Juarez news media he was concerned for the safety of the migrants because the tents are in terrain prone to flooding.
But IBWC Mexican Section Secretary Jose de Jesus Luevano told El Diario that the agency has no police powers to remove the migrants from the levee.
The U.S. Section of the IBWC on Monday told Border Report that Mexico usually addresses issues on its side of the river. The agency said migrants have camped along the Rio Grande in Mexico at various locations in the past and that flooding dangers faced by those migrants and other residents near flood-prone areas have been a concern of the Mexican Section of the IBWC.
“For any temporary holding or staging areas along the Rio Grande in El Paso, the U.S. Section coordinates with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure these areas are outside of the floodplain,” the agency said in a statement.
Several Venezuelan migrants interviewed Monday by a KTSM/Border Report crew said they are aware that Mexican authorities may try to remove them at any time. They hope that does not happen.
“We’re hoping for a miracle … that (the United States) opens the door to us and gives us the opportunity to look for a better life for our families,” said Mayra Mora, a Venezuelan staying at the tent camp since the U.S. on Oct. 12 made Venezuelan migrants who come into the country illegally amenable to Title 42 expulsions.
Pedro Martinez, another Venezuelan migrant, said the Mexican people have been extremely generous with migrant families like his. He hopes the Mexican government continues to show tolerance.
“We improvised this kitchen because the wind is strong and it used to put out the fires,” Martinez said. He added that a Juarez resident dropped off a bottled gas-powered stove that his family now uses to cook food by the river.
Many of the Venezuelans at the camp were en route to seek asylum in the United States when the Biden administration changed the rules. The change came after border communities like El Paso saw a sharp increase of asylum-seekers from that South American country and local governments were forced to spend money on busing, hotels and meals to avoid a humanitarian crisis on their streets.