‘Asylum’ signs welcome migrants crossing illegally into Texas – tech2.org

‘Asylum’ signs welcome migrants crossing illegally into Texas


MISSION, Texas – A few hundred feet from the murky green waters of the Rio Grande, a handwritten sign hidden inside a plastic sleeve owned by the Department of Homeland Security is taped to the trunk of a weesatch tree.

It says “Asilo,” the Spanish word for asylum.

It is written in large letters on a piece of cardboard above an arrow indicating the direction of the Anzalduas port of entry in Mission, Texas and the directive “Walk this way to the bridge, 3 km” or, roughly, “Walk this way until the bridge “. . “

“They used to have masks [stuffed inside]”Hidalgo County District 3 Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Ray Reyna told The Post, adding that the sign and a similar one were hung” recently “amid the change to the Biden administration.

The signs were found by The Post Thursday night during a trip along with the Constable’s Office in the undergrowth behind Anzalduas Park that migrants walk through after crossing the Rio Grande on rafts from Reynosa, Mexico. Evidence of their presence, including a soggy plaid blanket, water bottles, and a child-size mask printed with blue and pink fish, littered the worn paths they take through the river’s undergrowth.

Local law enforcement officials believed the signs had been left by U.S. Border Patrol agents because they were sealed with DHS-owned sleeves, although Customs and Border Protection denied their agents posted them there.

A sign that says asylum in Spanish (
A sign that says asylum in Spanish (“Asilo”) shows migrants the way to a Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas.
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

The signs are further proof of President Biden’s more attractive approach to immigration that has led to an increase in border crossings. DHS officials said it is on track to be the largest in two decades after a series of strict immigration policies set by former President Donald Trump were reversed.

“They come with the mentality that they’re going to stay here … It’s very different, we’re not used to it,” said Sheriff Ray Treviño, who took The Post for a walk while he worked. Operation Stonegarden, a federal grant program that funds local law enforcement units to assist with border security measures.

“Once Trump came out and Biden came in, everyone started coming in as well.”

Hidalgo County Sheriff Ray Treviño is on patrol near the Rio Grande River in Hidalgo County, Texas.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Ray Treviño is on patrol near the Rio Grande River in Hidalgo County, Texas.
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

Under Trump, Treviño said he would see a handful of migrants every night, “a trio here or there, a group of five, a group of seven” who were deliberately trying to hide and be smuggled. But these days, at least a hundred migrants arrive in the area almost every night, sometimes as many as 300 over the course of a few hours, who easily surrender to law enforcement and “want to be found,” Treviño said. .

“From now on, these are all family groups, volunteers are given. They are not here to be caught, they are here to surrender, they come seeking asylum, ”explained Treviño, who has been on the job for nine years.

“We are simply guiding them, we are showing them the way.”

A stretch of the Rio Grande is often used as a crossing point for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in Hidalgo County, Texas.
A stretch of the Rio Grande is often used as a crossing point for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in Hidalgo County, Texas.
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

Sergeant. Sheriff Roger Rich said they patrol the brush “primarily for security reasons” and recently the area has been dubbed the “family group area” due to the large number of children and parents entering.

“The problem is, it gets dark and they flip you over,” Rich explained.

“We have had people who die here, get lost and die.”


During the trip, The Post encountered a group of 11 migrants, including five adults, five young children and a 17-year-old girl, who had been dropped off in a white truck on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and sent on a raft.

Olinda Marilin Portillo Mazariegos was out of breath after climbing the embankment and through the mesquite trees with her 6-year-old daughter, Silvia Olinda Marilín López Portillo, after their 32-day trip from Guatemala.

Olinda Marilin Portillo Mazariegos (left) with her daughter Silvia Olinda Marilín López Portillo rest on the side of a trail just after rafting across the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County, Texas.
Olinda Marilin Portillo Mazariegos (left) with her daughter Silvia Olinda Marilín López Portillo rest on the side of a trail just after rafting across the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County, Texas.
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

“My country is not the place to be, children are murdered and raped at night,” explained Mazariegos, who paid at least $ 8,000 for their passage and previously worked as a psychologist.

She said a girl had been raped in her hometown, where gangs were rampant, but when she denounced the culprit, she was “threatened,” which was what prompted her to leave.

“There is no law in my country,” said the mother, who was wearing nothing but clothes on her back, as she held her daughter’s hand and explained her plans to meet a friend in New Orleans and find work as a cleaner. or a cook could even transfer her professional certifications to the US.

“I’m not afraid anymore. I used to be very scared, but now I’m not. ”

Jhosselyn Rojas Solano, 25, traveled nearly 4,000 miles from Bolivia over two weeks by bus and on foot with her five-year-old son, Matías Vegamonte Rojas, to escape domestic violence.

Jhosselyn Rojas Solano (center) rests with his son Matías Vegamonte Rojas (left) and Ariel Ortega Perra (right) before heading to the Border Patrol facility in Hidalgo County, Texas.
Jhosselyn Rojas Solano (center) rests with his son Matías Vegamonte Rojas (left) and Ariel Ortega Perra (right) before heading to the Border Patrol facility in Hidalgo County, Texas.
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

“For seven years he has been bothering me, threatening me because I had asked for child support because he was my husband and I needed financial support for my son,” Solano explained while crying softly.

“He threatened me, he hit me and I denounced him, and there they did nothing,” continued the mother while Matías hugged her leg.

“And this last time he threatened me that if I kept seeking child support, he was going to hurt me and my son and that he would take my other son. That is why I decided to come here ”.

Solano, who worked as a hairstylist in her country, described the harrowing journey she took to find safety and the difficulties she faced taking the long journey alone with a young child.

Jhosselyn Rojas Solano (center), children and migrants meet with sheriff's deputies before going to a nearby Border Patrol facility in Hidalgo County, Texas.
Jhosselyn Rojas Solano (center), children and migrants meet with sheriff’s deputies before going to a nearby Border Patrol facility in Hidalgo County, Texas.
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

“The weather, the length of the trip, the pressure and the fear of something happening on the trip. You found out about so many things happening, the fear I had for my son, and there were days when we went hungry, all those things, it was difficult, ”said the mother, adding that there were days when she had to carry her son in her arms. she walked for miles.

Solano hopes to reunite with his uncle in Virginia, where he can start a new life and provide for his children.

“I came because I couldn’t take it anymore. I hope that we will be able to establish ourselves there in the United States.


In fiscal year 2021, there has been a huge increase in “family units” entering the Rio Grande Valley specifically, accounting for 42 percent of all parents and children who crossed the southwest border, dwarfing the other eight sectors. CBP, the data shows.

In fiscal year 2020, 8,129 parents and children crossed the Rio Grande and in fiscal year 2021, that number more than doubled to 16,583, an increase of 104 percent, data shows. By comparison, other hot spots in Del Rio and El Paso had just 6,438 and 5,798 families respectively.

A Hidalgo County Sheriff's vehicle patrols near the Rio Grande River in Hidalgo County, Texas,
A Hidalgo County Sheriff’s vehicle patrols near the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County, Texas,
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

The biggest jump in South Texas is likely due to a law passed in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which is just across the Rio Grande, according to local media and aid groups.

Prevents the state from accepting migrants traveling with young children who would normally be removed from the U.S. Under Title 42, a rule imposed last year by Trump that allowed CBP to immediately deport migrants to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Children under the age of six are not allowed to return to Mexico. The United States has a policy that the border is closed, they have not changed that, but the Border Patrol cannot return any children under the age of six to Mexico and, therefore, they are forced to leave them in the United States. . [that’s] why are we seeing so many families, ”said Sister Norma Pimentel, who runs the Catholic Charities Respite Center in downtown McAllen, where 200 to 600 migrant families have received care each day during the latest surge.

A sign posted by the United States Border Patrol is used to transport migrants to a Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas.
A sign posted by the US Border Patrol is used to transport migrants to a Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas.
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

“They realized that if they had a child six years old or younger, they would not send them back. So they actually hope the Border Patrol will see them … once they are processed, the Border Patrol calls me and tells me that they have a group to leave and that that will happen all day from very early in the morning. until very late “.

Local CBP officials did not confirm whether they are forced to agree to possible Title 42 expulsions due to the new Mexican law and directed The Post to its national office, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Pimentel, who has been working with migrants since the 1980s, said the families he serves are not bad people, they are just trying to escape a bad situation.

Officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety bring a boat ashore after patrolling the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County, Texas.
Officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety bring a boat ashore after patrolling the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County, Texas.
David Butow / Redux for NY Post

“The situation in your country is difficult. Is not safe. They are afraid to be there. They fear for their children and find any opportunity they can to try to come to this country in the hope of being safer here, ”the nun explained.

“Your children can be easily recruited [by gangs], kidnapped, murdered, they find it harder to work because the cartels or gangs make it impossible. There are no jobs available, if they work, they steal their money, they coerce them and that is the kind of life they see there and that is why they prefer to go north hoping to find a safer place ”.

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