“We could be expelled, but we have to try”
A trio of Venezuelan migrants who entered the United States illegally endured harrowing first days in Texas – sleeping on rainy streets and trying to earn enough money to go to work elsewhere.
Ana Gabriela Garcia, her husband and fellow traveler Edgar Rodriguez have recounted their first week in the United States after admitting they risked everything to cross the border illegally when Title 42 was suddenly extended.
“We entered illegally through a gate in the border wall,” Garcia told the Post during an interview at an El Paso church on Thursday. “We know the risks… the pros and cons, but we have to make the sacrifice.”
The three migrants The Post first met in Juarez, Mexico on Tuesday were among thousands of people waiting at the Mexican border to enter the United States legally when Title 42 was due to end on December 21. They hoped to seek asylum.
Instead, the federal policy that allowed the US Border Patrol to stop migrant asylum seekers, like Venezuelans, was extended. The extension meant that migrants from Venezuela were still subject to deportation from the United States and returned to Mexico.
The three had to decide – wait until June for US courts to make a decision on the future of Title 42 or enter the US illegally now. Waiting in Mexico was not an option, they claimed.
On Wednesday night, the trio snuck into the United States.
Speaking in El Paso on Thursday, Garcia said she was looking forward to working to send money to her three daughters, ages 2, 6 and 9, whom she left behind in Venezuela.
“We thought…we might get kicked out on the trip, but we have to try,” the migrant mother said. “We decided to make the sacrifice for them so they don’t have to go through this, because it hasn’t been easy.
“Santa Claus did not come this year. The girls are afraid that we leave them behind.
The three have saved $50 and are trying to raise more money for the bus ride to Dallas or Denver. Their illegal status means they cannot legally travel by plane or bus.
“We have jobs waiting for us in Denver – we just need to be able to get there,” Garcia said.
Garcia suffered bruises on his feet after walking for weeks from Venezuela to the United States, crossing the notorious and deadly Darien Gap and several countries to get to the US-Mexico border.
His travel companion, Rodriguez, said he was attacked by a monkey in the jungle and was desperate to get treatment.
“He fell out of the trees while we were sleeping and went for my foot,” Rodriguez said. “I received medical attention just to close the wound, but I still need to be checked.”
The number of illegal immigrants in El Paso will only increase now that the United States Supreme Court has upheld the 42 title, El Paso Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino predicted. While the city has funds to house legally admitted asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, like Garcia, her husband and Rodriguez, have nowhere to go.
Migrants who have not been vetted by federal authorities have now begun sleeping on the streets of downtown El Paso, mixed with legal migrants amid freezing temperatures with only blankets for warmth.
Thursday night, Garcia, her husband and Rodriguez slept in the rain on the cold streets.
“If they keep coming in undetected, we’re going to keep growing that population within that community,” D’Agostino said.
Only the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have the legal authority to detain these illegal immigrants, he said.
“We are reaching out to all of our partners, our federal partners, because at the end of the day this is a process, a process that everyone has to go through and we really have to make this sustainable for everyone.”
Border Patrol told the Post it was aware of the situation, citing the arrest of illegal immigrants traveling on commercial buses north of El Paso.
the 60 illegal immigrants who had traveled in three buses – mingling with legal migrants – but were stopped at a border checkpoint north of El Paso where vehicles are inspected.
Illegal migrants were sorted and detained, Border Patrol officials said.
Additional reporting by David Meyer