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Texas’s small border town is the route to the United States for immigrant children

Rome, Texas (AP) — When the Rio Grande River darkens, US Border Guard agents hear the sound of a pump inflating a raft across the Mexican river. I’m going to be busy.

Within an hour, about 100 people were dropped into the United States. This includes many families with toddlers and children up to 7 years traveling alone. They all wear numbered yellow plastic wristbands that look like they can be used to enter concerts and amusement parks. After stepping into the United States, everyone strips them off and throws them to the ground. The large black letters on the wristband are written as follows. “Entregas” or “Deliveries” seems to be a mechanism for smugglers to track migrants carrying across the river that separates Texas and Mexico.

Rome, a 10,000-person town with historic monuments and wooden storefronts in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, is the latest in an illegal crossroads with an increasing number of families and children entering the United States in search of asylum. It is the epicenter.

US officials reported more than 100,000 encounters at the southern border in February. This is the highest since the 4th consecutive month of 2019. Encounters average about 5,000 people per day throughout March, and if these numbers are retained, they will increase by about 50% compared to February. Border guard officials said they discussed preliminary numbers with reporters on Friday, subject to anonymity.

As of Thursday, more than 16,000 unaccompanied children have been detained by the government, including approximately 5,000 substandard Customs and Border Protection.

President Joe Biden, who sees many immigrants as more welcoming than his predecessor, has pushed back the proposal that his administration’s immigration policy is responsible for the increasing number. At his first press conference since taking office, Mr Biden said the government would take steps to move hundreds of migrant children and teenagers out of cramped detention facilities more quickly.

On the Rio Grande, when a US agent asked to land down a rare sandy area, a smuggler barked and another agent complained that he had pierced a raft a few days ago. The agent reassures him and negotiates a landing away from dangerous branches.

“Children on board,” another smuggler shouts to the authorities.

As we approached the raft shore on Wednesday night, smugglers jumped into the shallows, lifted the children, took the hands of adults in a row, and got off the raft. Immigrants walked or were carried a few steps, and smugglers turned around for the next passenger without touching the dry land.

A seven-year-old girl named Kaley held back her tears when she mourned with her cell phone on the raft. The smuggler tells her she didn’t, and she seems to shrug it. Her mother’s US phone number is marked with a black marker on her shirt arm.

US agents escort a group of immigrants about 0.5 miles across dirt roads to a dead-end street on the edge of Rome. There, other agents at the white folding table look up their ID, their name and destination, and answer their questions. Children traveling alone leave their families and keep valuables in plastic bags.

From there, they head to the nearby parking lot and board buses, vans and SUVs. Unaccompanied children are to be detained by CBP within 72 hours, but are often detained longer due to lack of space in US health services. Health and Human Services has announced that it will house children in the Dallas Convention Center and will open emergency facilities at venues and military bases such as San Antonio, El Paso and San Diego.

The Biden administration will expel almost all single adults without the opportunity to seek asylum under a public health order issued at the beginning of the pandemic. According to Border Guard officials, they are about 2,200 out of about 5,000 people they encounter on the 1st of March.

Of that total, about 450-500 are unaccompanied minors, and the rest are allowed to stay at least temporarily if their children are under the age of 7 and cannot return to Mexico immediately. It’s a family. The number of families accepted in the Tamaulipas shelter south of the Rio Grande Valley, according to people familiar with the matter.

It is not uncommon to see an increase in cross-border migrants in spring and summer, and border guards have faced similar situations in the past. However, officials said the large number of teens and children and space restrictions caused by the pandemic made this year particularly difficult.

“There is one reason why this year is so different from the previous year. We face some unique challenges,” he said.

In 2019, Central American immigrants preferred crossing in the area near Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor of illegal crossing, but walls built during President Donald Trump’s term made them Rome. Closed to. The flow is active.

A 17-year-old man from El Salvador said he had recently left home because he felt threatened by the gang and believed that Biden was sympathetic to the immigrants. When asked how he knew Biden’s position, he said “speakers.”

Mayor Cruz, 29, said Biden’s policy had nothing to do with his decision to leave San Pedro Sula in Honduras about two months ago, but families with young children remain in the United States. I heard that it is allowed.

Cruz said he was happy to be in the United States after a dangerous trip throughout Mexico where someone tried to kidnap his daughter. He left Honduras with his 7- and 2-year-old wives and children because he lost his job at a seasoning factory when a pandemic broke out in November when a tropical cyclone destroyed his house. He was able to raise enough money to travel an American family.

“It’s hard to start from scratch (in Honduras) and start with what you earn there,” he said.

In the river, there was calm after the first rush. CBP reported detaining 681 unaccompanied children on Wednesday. This is the sum excluding Mexicans who are usually returned immediately.

Texas’s small border town is the route to the United States for immigrant children

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