Local organizations step up migrant aid in Reynosa

Related Story

From Corinto, El Salvador, to McAllen on the U.S.-Mexico border, Salvadoran migrant Esmeralda Ramirez tells Channel 5 News that she and her three-year-old daughter would barely have time to rest on their trek in cars, buses and inside an 18-wheeler.

Ramirez says she had to pay human traffickers $4,000 to get out of El Salvador and another $4,000 to enter the U.S. illegally.

“You work so hard in El Salvador, and your paycheck just isn't enough,” Ramirez said in Spanish.

Ramirez, a single 21-year-old mother, says she's searching for a better life for her daughter. She was able to cross and stay in the U.S.

But many others are quickly sent back to Reynosa after being apprehended by Border Patrol. More than 700 migrants are camping out just a block from the International Bridge in Reynosa.

Felicia Rangel-Samponaro, director of the organization Sidewalk School of Asylum Seekers, started helping migrants who slowly began camping out at the Plaza de la Republica in March.

When asked if she’s seeing a repetition of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “Remain in Mexico” policy, a Trump-era program that required migrants to wait for their asylum hearings in Mexico, Rangel-Samponaro said it’s the same.

“This is the same. The only difference is that this is called Title 42,” said Rangel-Samponaro.

Title 42, a law created nearly 80 years ago, is used to limit who can enter the U.S. for health reasons and has been in place because of the pandemic.

Reynosa city leaders called on Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and Pastor Victor Silva from the Senda de Vida Migrant Shelter to help improve the conditions of the migrants in the park, which fluctuates between 700 and 900 people.

Pimentel and Silva are also facilitating asylum requests for the most vulnerable migrants.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) is also calling for more immigration judges.

"If some of them are not going have hearings for years to come - for years to come, then that's not serving justice," Cuellar said. 

In recent weeks, groups of only 10 to 20 migrants with disabilities or serious illnesses have been entering in a formal manner through land ports of entry, according to humanitarian organizations working with U.S. immigration officials.

Meanwhile, migrants like Esmeralda will continue their journey inside the U.S.

“I was asked to show-up to an immigration office within 60 days to get all of this situated,” Ramirez said in Spanish. “And we'll see what we'll start working on next.”


7 Days