HIDALGO, Texas (Border Report) – Luis Fernando Castro is a pastor at Instituto Epicentro in Monterrey, Mexico, whose organization has long helped asylum-seekers in what is that country’s second-largest city.
But he says they have never experienced the number of migrants as they are right now, since Title 42 was lifted at the U.S./Mexico border and the United States is sending back to Mexico those who do not qualify under the new Title 8 legal pathway requirements.
“We are watch(ing) a crisis for the immigrants that stopped at Monterrey because in the past Monterrey wasn’t a city that had immigrants, but nowadays Monterrey has a lot of immigrants,” Castro told Border Report as he visited the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas to help asylum-seekers on the border during the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Castro says daily 300 and 400 asylum-seekers show up at Monterrey’s main bus terminal.
They lack money, clothing, housing and information on how to legally apply for U.S. asylum under the CBP One app, which all migrants must now use to schedule asylum interviews.
“We see a lot of families with little babies and women, people that really have needs. So the people in Monterrey, now we have compassion to that kind of, of persons because we think that can be our own family – making that process – so we have compassion for them,” Castro said.
Members of Instituto Epicentrol, a biblical institute where missionaries are trained, can volunteer to help the migrants through their Pan de Vida program.
Volunteers go to the bus stop daily taking food, hygiene items, offering travel advice, and sharing biblical passages, he said.
“We work at the bus terminal, and we share the gospel there. And we also share food and and things for personal care, to the immigrants,” Castro said. “So we share the things that we think are very special. That is the gospel to feel their their spirit, also.”
Volunteers with the Pan De Vida program through Instituto Epicentro biblical institution help provide for the needs of asylum seekers at the bus station in Monterrey, Mexico. (Photos Courtesy Instituto Epicentro)
Castro was in South Texas seeing how Practice Mercy Foundation and other asylum-seeking volunteers help those south of the Rio Grande.
They cross-crossed into Matamoros, south of Brownsville, Texas; and Reynosa, south of McAllen, for four days.
U.S. volunteers fit migrants for eyeglasses in Matamoros, Mexico, during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. (Photos Courtesy Practice Mercy Foundation)
“It’s for us a really good opportunity to meet people that are caring about the immigrants down there in Mexico,” Castro said.
He added that he’s also learning how they meet their housing, hunger and other needs. Which is important now that so many asylum seekers are showing up Monterrey every day.
Over 1.1 million people live in Monterrey, an industrial hub that has exploded in the last century. It also is geographically situated for easy travel routes to several U.S. destinations.
It’s 140 miles southwest of McAllen, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico; and 140 miles due south of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
But it’s not so close to the border that the asylum seekers risk being sent to the southern part of Mexico by Mexican military or police.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, Texas, who is ranking member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, last week told Border Report that since Title 42 lifted on May 11, Mexico has sent over 30,000 migrants to its southern border to keep them away from the U.S. border, as part of agreements with Biden administration officials.
“What Mexico is doing over there is people that they used to just return right across, they’re now sending them into the southern part of Mexico. In the southern part of Mexico, they’re enforcing their immigration law, which means that if they don’t have their immigration papers, their transit papers, they’re sent back,” Cuellar said. “They’ve sent back over 30,000 people that did not have their immigration papers.”
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has promised that those who try to cross the border illegally will be sent back to Mexico or deported to their home countries.
Last week, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended over 22,000 migrants at the border, U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz tweeted.
Since Title 8 replaced Title 42, migrants must enter at U.S. ports of entry via asylum interviews and those who do not qualify for humanitarian parole will be sent back, according to CBP.
Immigration experts say the changes in asylum pathways have caused a change in migrants waiting at the border, and those waiting in interior cities, like Monterrey.
And Cuellar says as long as Mexico is strictly enforcing its immigration laws, migrants will lay low.
“We don’t know how long Mexico is going to keep up this enforcement. History has told us that they might keep it for a month, a month and a half, two months, maybe. And after a while, interest, local politics, other interests come into play. And then they the enforcement level goes down. And then people start coming to the border,” Cuellar said.