On Wednesday, September 20th, Eagle Pass, Texas, found itself at the epicenter of a significant migration event. The city, which has grown accustomed to regular migration due to its status as one of the most heavily crossed areas along the United States-Mexico border, experienced an unprecedented influx of migrants.
Over a span of just a few days, more than 4,000 individuals crossed into the border town, prompting Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr. to sign an emergency declaration. This number is in addition to the 2,500-person group that had crossed into the city illegally earlier in the week. The cumulative effect of these crossings, combined with the 7,200 illegal crossers apprehended in the preceding week, has strained the city’s resources, particularly its local police and fire departments.
The situation has become so dire that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had to redirect its agents from processing vehicles and the railway along the busy trade port between Piedras Negras, Mexico, and Eagle Pass. This was done to assist the Border Patrol with taking migrants into custody. By Wednesday evening, hundreds of migrants, many hailing from Venezuela, gathered under the Eagle Pass–Piedras Negras International Bridge, awaiting processing.
Mayor Salinas highlighted the gravity of the situation, stating, “The emergency declaration grants us the ability to request financial resources to provide additional services caused by the influx of undocumented immigrants.” He also expressed concerns about the city’s only shelter’s capacity to accommodate the surge of asylum seekers, leading many migrants to roam the city streets.
This migration surge is reminiscent of the 2021 event, where over 16,000 Haitians gathered at the Del Rio Port of Entry, located about 50 miles up the Rio Grande. The current situation in Eagle Pass underscores the broader challenges faced by border towns and the complexities of U.S. immigration policy.
The U.S. and Mexico have made efforts to deter illegal migration. However, deteriorating conditions in Central America and Venezuela continue to drive migrants to the U.S. border. The Biden administration’s recent announcement to expand Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to nearly half a million Venezuelans already in the U.S. further complicates the situation.