Brownsville Port of Entry Reopens after Migrants Block Bridge
BROWNSVILLE – The Gateway International Bridge shut down for nearly 15 hours Thursday while hundreds of migrants took part in a sit-in protest on the Matamoros side of the bridge. They hoped officials would take note of their living conditions in Mexico.
Customs and Border Protection estimated up to 300 migrants took part in the protest.
They provided a statement:
"Bridge traffic at Gateway International Bridge and B&M International Bridges was temporarily halted at about 1:30 a.m. after a group of 250-300 migrants without entry documents had gathered at the midpoint of the Gateway Bridge. CBP has responded and traffic at B&M International Bridge resumed at about 3:45 a.m.
As of 4:08 p.m., traffic at Gateway Bridge has resumed normal operations in both directions."
Many of the migrants in Matamoros are waiting for their chance to request asylum or already requested asylum and were placed in the Migrant Protection Protocol, also known as the Remain in Mexico policy.
As part of it, they must wait out their immigration court hearing on the Mexican side, but many say they are not receiving the opportunities of employment and safety granted to them as part of the deal between the U.S. and Mexico.
A Central American father holding his child said, "We can’t be here like this. The kids can’t keep starving. Look at my little girl. She has a rash and you can see some discharge. It because we have to shower in the river. I also have a rash, but we have to bathe because the heat is intolerable. If we use a public restroom we have to pay."
CBP officers did not report any attempts to rush the border or violence on their side of the bridge.
The migrant father said the group planned to make it a peaceful protest, and he said they were allowed to pass onto the bridge by Mexican authorities, that CHANNEL 5 NEWS witnessed to be present on the bridge property.
He said, "We don’t have weapons or anything of that style. We did this peacefully. From the beginning when we were organizing this we agreed it would be done peacefully, and if someone got rowdy we were going to grab them and turn them over to law enforcement since they authorized us to do this."
Two Mexican men showed up to the bridge antagonizing migrants and making veiled threats.
Toward the end, the migrants who remained at the bridge were not part of the protest.
Many had their initial hearing scheduled at the Brownsville immigration court hearing tents that sit on the bridge's property.
They were allowed into the U.S. side, and had their court hearings rescheduled for another day.