McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Triple-digit heat is expected to hit the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday, worrying migrant aid workers who are boosting supplies to Mexican border encampments where asylum-seekers live, Border Report has learned.
On Wednesday, temperatures hit in the upper 90s, including a record-tie of 99 degrees in McAllen, CBS4 meteorologist Jim Danner told Border Report.
“We’re normally in the upper 70s, maybe close to 80 degrees in the afternoon, but yet we’ve been seeing record high temperatures in the upper 90s and into the 100s,” Danner said.
“Hot and dry conditions await us this afternoon. Widespread upper 90s to lower 100s are expected away from the coast, where it will be closer to 90,” the National Weather Service’s Brownsville office tweeted Thursday.
“The heat is not helping. The asylum-seekers are struggling,” Pastor Abraham Barberi, who runs Dulce Refugio church in Matamoros, Mexico, and ministers to the migrants at an outdoor camp, told Border Report on Thursday.
Barberi said volunteers are already bringing in 15,000 liters of water per day to the three encampments that have sprung up near the Gateway International Bridge in the border town of Matamoros, just south of Brownsville, Texas.
“That’s probably not enough,” Barberi said. “But as you know we are a small ministry and that’s all we can afford for now.”
Farther west in the northern Mexican town of Reynosa, the winds don’t blow as strong from the Gulf of Mexico and the heat is stifling.
Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, says migrants who live alongside the Rio Grande in a bare encampment are in danger from the extremely hot weather striking so early in March.
“The group of families by the river camp need assistance with water,” Pimentel told Border Report on Thursday. “(We’re) trying to keep up with the need. Making sure the large (water) containers are full.”
She helps to organize humanitarian workers in both northern Mexican cities where thousands of asylum-seekers are living, hoping to cross the U.S. border into South Texas.
Title 42 public health orders still remain that prevent asylum-seekers from entering at ports of entry due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that has resulted in thousands pitching whatever they can find to create tents alongside the Rio Grande and in dangerous Mexican border cities while they try to get an asylum interview with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Pimentel says the number of asylum-seekers in Matamoros camps has decreased significantly.
Andrea Rudnik, of the nonprofit Team Brownsville, estimates there are 500 to 700 living in the encampments. But she says it is hard to tell because there are many empty tent-like structures that asylum-seekers have abandoned but are still in the camp.
She says tents are not allowed by the Matamoros government, so migrants pitch together garbage bags and plastic sheeting rolls to fashion shelters.
“There’s no shade. You can’t even call them tents. They’re just out there,” Rudnik said.
“This is just the beginning of the heat. We’re only in March. If it’s hot now what it’s going to be in June with no protection with housing made of plastic sheets and garbage bags? Plastic heats up terribly I don’t think you can really stay inside of it during the day. It’s not going to be much of a shelter,” Rudnik said.
Plastic heats up terribly I don’t think you can really stay inside of it during the day.”Andrea Rudnik, Team Brownsville
Danner says there is good news for Friday and the weekend when a cold front is expected to arrive and push temperatures into the 70s and 80s.