Removing people from the bridges over the Rio Grande would represent a significant escalation in efforts to prevent asylum-seekers without Mexican transit visas from legally entering the United States at official ports of entry.
The group of migrants was sleeping on the B&M Bridge because US officials are now forcing asylum-seekers to wait—often for days—before they are allowed to set in foot in the United States and request protection from persecution. The removals come despite the fact that the Trump administration has repeatedly told asylum-seekers to come to ports of entry instead of crossing the border without authorization.
Jennifer Harbury, a Texas human rights lawyer, says US Customs and Border Protection and Mexican officials are working together to remove people on the bridges who don’t have permission to be in Mexico. Mexican officials are also trying to stop migrants who lack visas from getting onto the bridge between McAllen, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico, in the first place. If they do get onto the bridge, Harbury says, CBP sometimes alerts Mexican officials and tells them to come and remove them. She says that a number of Mexican officials have told her that CBP calls their bosses, who instruct them to go detain the unauthorized people on the bridge. US officials are “checking for Mexican papers, which is not their job,” Harbury says.
CBP disputes that it is working with Mexican officials to remove people from bridges. “Mexico has its own laws and CBP would not ask them to do anything on our behalf,” a CBP spokesperson told Mother Jones in an email. The spokesperson also wrote, “Mexican immigration authorities screen third country nationals in accordance with their sovereign laws and policies. If a traveler is determined not to have legal status in Mexico, Mexican immigration authorities would will [sic] take the appropriate action.”
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