On the last day of Title 42, chaos and desperation are growing at the northern border of Mexico, where migrants have attempted to cross en masse into the United States using tactics such as throwing themselves into the Rio Bravo river and creating human stampedes.
At the border between Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and Brownsville, Texas, in the southern United States, migrants have been preparing in recent days for the end of Title 42, a health regulation that allows for the immediate expulsion of migrants at the border.
In the hours leading up to this, US military personnel have installed concertina wire as a security measure to prevent irregular crossings along the banks of the Rio Bravo, or Rio Grande in the US, in order to contain the migrants.
However, despite these measures, foreigners are still throwing themselves into the water to reach US soil. While some have been pushed back into Mexico by the current, others have managed to cross, mainly because they are accompanied by minors.
In the past 24 hours, groups of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, have entered the river that divides the two countries. Although authorities have attempted to prevent this action, families continue to filter through along the river.
This is happening amidst the uncertainty brought about by the implementation of Title 8, which involves “rapid and massive expulsions of migrant individuals who fail to comply with US entry regulations.”
“We don’t know what other laws may come to protect us, to provide us with the assurance that we will be able to enter the United States. So we made the decision to take the risk,” said a Venezuelan who preferred to remain anonymous.
On the Mexican side, agents from the National Institute of Migration (INM) positioned themselves at points where there was a flow of migrants, while US military personnel erected barbed wire to prevent their passage, even shouting at them to return to Mexico.
Tensions at the border are escalating ahead of the end of Title 42 on Thursday night. This measure was implemented by Donald Trump (2017-2021) and continued by President Joe Biden to expel migrants, citing the Covid-19 pandemic. This state of emergency is also coming to an end in the US.
With the new extended barrier and federal forces, there were migrants who did not cross the border and returned to Matamoros through the Rio Bravo, defying the danger in an area where at least one person from Maracaibo, Venezuela, has already drowned.
“They are inhumane, they told us we can’t (cross) because it’s closed,” said Karen Méndez, a Venezuelan who had to return to Mexico.
The desperate migrants began looking for areas without security or agents to drive them away because their sole objective was to cross into the United States to seek asylum.
“We don’t have information about the changes. We fear detention, but we have to take the risk,” argued a Venezuelan named Alejandro.
Most of the foreigners who entered the river had arrived in the past 24 hours seeking an alternative to be received by the Biden administration, disregarding the “CBP One” application that was enabled for their registration.
As time passes and the end of Title 42 approaches, the mass crossings at the natural border between the two nations show no signs of stopping.
“We’re not staying here, we’re moving forward. It’s over there, not backward to gain momentum. We come from hell, we come from the jungle, we go with God and we move forward,” said one migrant.
At a critical moment, US military personnel shouted at INM agents, questioning why they were allowing migrants to pass, while the Mexicans blamed them for temporarily removing the barbed.