As Migrants Struggle to Enter Texas, Challenges Mount on the US-Mexico Border

by Andrew Wright
Migrant Border Challenges

In a shelter near the Mexico border, Lila, a 39-year-old from Honduras, sat anxiously, trapped in a three-week-long waiting game to cross into Texas. Her predicament encapsulated the dire circumstances facing many migrants in the region: the perilous presence of cartels makes a retreat southward too risky, while the U.S. government offers no assurances for those pressing onward.

Lila, who preferred to use only her first name for safety reasons, recounted her journey, during which she encountered officers who demanded money rather than verifying her documents. Her lack of viable choices mirrors the pervasive frustration among both migrants and U.S. officials in cities along the border. This week alone, over 8,000 migrants arrived at Eagle Pass, Texas, situated across from Piedras Negras, where Lila and her Cuban partner awaited an opportunity to seek asylum in the United States.

Notably, some migrants opted not to wait and crossed the Rio Grande, a risky endeavor that led to tragic consequences, including the drowning of a 3-year-old boy. The surge in arrivals prompted the closure of an international bridge as Border Patrol agents were reassigned to manage the influx. Eagle Pass has been the focal point of Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s border mission, Operation Lone Star, for the past two years, which included the installation of a floating barrier in the Rio Grande.

Residents of Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras observed that while their communities have long been part of the migration route, the current scale of migrant groups is unprecedented. Migrants who recently arrived explained that these groups formed spontaneously during their journey.

According to figures released by Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador, Border Patrol agents encountered migrants at the border 142,037 times during the first 17 days of September, marking a 15% increase from the same period the previous month. Among these figures, up to 1,450 people were admitted daily with the mobile app for asylum appointments known as CBP One, but the vast majority entered the country illegally.

Eric Flores, a 39-year-old migrant from Honduras, recounted arriving in a group of about 3,000 people via train from Mexico City. The group dispersed to various border cities, and Flores found himself at a Catholic shelter in Piedras Negras, where he hoped to find safety. He was among nearly 200 migrants staying at the Casa de Migrante Frontera Digna on Friday.

While some migrants pause briefly at the border for a meal before attempting to cross the Rio Grande, others, like Flores, opt to wait for a legal appointment. As Flores put it, “We’re waiting for God to give us a sign and for our appointment to be approved so we can cross legally. What we desire is the American dream, the opportunity to work and provide for our families, without harming the country.”

The introduction of CBP One earlier this year was touted by the Department of Homeland Security as a crucial tool for establishing a more efficient and orderly border system.

Mexico’s top diplomat, Alicia Bárcena, expressed concern about the high occupancy of migrant shelters in Ciudad Juarez, located across from El Paso, Texas, which are now at 95% capacity. She called for more measures to curb migration through the Darien Gap.

The situation in Eagle Pass, where the mayor declared a state of emergency, illustrates the recent challenges faced by Border Patrol agents due to the surge in asylum-seekers along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border. In response, border crossings in San Diego and El Paso were also temporarily closed to redirect agents to areas with higher influxes of migrants.

Although the large crowds of migrants crossing the river into Eagle Pass have since dissipated, the local community continues to grapple with the consequences of this influx.

The events unfolded earlier in the week when Eagle Pass announced the closure of one of its two international bridges at 6 p.m. Claudia Gutierrez, a manager at a store in downtown Eagle Pass, recounted her experience of being caught in the closure. She rushed to Mexico for a delivery and, upon returning to the U.S., found herself in a two-hour queue before being redirected to the other international bridge, where she faced a four-hour wait. Gutierrez, who holds dual citizenship, had to spend the night in Mexico.

The closures also affected students who cross from Mexico into the U.S. daily. Laura Salazar, 22, usually drives her younger brother and cousin to school, but the extended wait times forced them to opt for the pedestrian bridge, which facilitated a quicker border crossing. However, the subsequent 25-minute walk to school posed its own challenges.

This week’s closures extended to an international railway in Eagle Pass, with Union Pacific Railroad Co. stating that the track would reopen at midnight Saturday. Approximately 2,400 rail cars remained immobilized on both sides of the border.

After a decline in illegal crossings following new asylum restrictions in May, President Joe Biden’s administration now faces renewed challenges. Democratic officials are seeking additional support for hosting asylum-seekers, while Republicans are making the issue a focal point ahead of the 2024 elections.

In August, Border Patrol recorded 181,509 arrests along the Mexican border, a 37% increase from July. Notably, the number of arrests in August 2022 was relatively stable, and it remained well below the peak of over 220,000 arrests in December. The increase in arrivals was largely driven by families with children, with 93,999 arrests, marking a record high.

Troy Miller, acting CBP commissioner, affirmed the agency’s commitment to border security and enforcing U.S. immigration laws, emphasizing the heightened operational tempo along the border in response to increased encounters.

For one migrant family, Alicia, a 36-year-old from Honduras, securing a slot to present themselves at the Eagle Pass port of entry on Sunday was a hard-won victory. Alicia’s family embarked on their journey from Monterrey, Mexico, with proof of their CBP One appointment, intended to enable their passage through Mexico. However, they immediately faced corrupt officers at checkpoints, with demands for bribes and a bidding war for passage. This ordeal highlights the myriad challenges faced by migrants on their quest for asylum.

Correction: The spelling of Mexico’s top diplomat’s last name has been updated to “Bárcena,” correcting it from “Barcenas.”

Elliot Spagat, a reporter for Big Big News in San Diego, contributed to this report.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Migrant Border Challenges

What is the current situation at the US-Mexico border?

The current situation at the US-Mexico border involves a surge in arrivals of migrants, with over 8,000 migrants arriving in Eagle Pass, Texas, in one week. This has overwhelmed Border Patrol agents and prompted the closure of an international bridge.

How are migrants navigating the border?

Migrants face a range of challenges. Some wait for legal appointments through the CBP One app, while others attempt to cross the Rio Grande, often risking their lives. Corruption at checkpoints and extortion by officers also pose significant hurdles.

How is the local community affected?

Local communities near the border, like Eagle Pass, have been disrupted by bridge closures, affecting daily commuters and businesses. Additionally, the closure of an international railway has further economic consequences.

What are the broader implications of this situation?

The surge in arrivals at the border has reignited debates over immigration policy in the United States. It’s a focal point for both Democratic and Republican politicians, with potential consequences for future elections and border security efforts.

More about Migrant Border Challenges

You may also like


PolitixJunkie September 24, 2023 - 6:32 pm

this immigration issue, big deal in politics, Dems & Reps clashin’ on it, gonna impact elections fo sho

BorderWatchDog September 25, 2023 - 10:03 am

those poor ppl, riskin their lives, hope somethin’ gets sorted soon, it’s a mess

Reader123 September 25, 2023 - 12:57 pm

wow, border situation is gettin’ crazy, lotsa migrants and stuff, wonder what gov gonna do bout it

EaglePassLocal September 25, 2023 - 4:15 pm

bridge closures r chaos, makes it hard for folks just tryna work, no good for the town


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News