Hundreds of Venezuelan migrants have been caught on camera crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in the last few days, after rumors began spreading that transport was being offered to Canada.
Around 500 people were counted crossing near El Paso overnight on Wednesday and into Thursday morning.
Several said they had heard that transport was being offered north towards Canada.
‘They said they would only be taking families,’ one Venezuelan woman in her 20s told KTSM/Border Report, walking toward the Rio Grande with her husband.
The Border Patrol chief for the El Paso sector tweeted this photo, saying they were Venezuelan migrants who had crossed from Mexico overnight on Wednesday
Another said there was confusion as to whether the rules had changed.
‘There is conflicting information. We don’t know what is really happening,’ she said.
‘They told us (in Juarez) they would help us get to Canada.
‘We were happy, but they were playing with our feelings. They gave us some hope that we would be welcome. They told us, “You’re going to walk to Gate 36. You will be welcome there. We will help you with your process.”‘
Border officials, however, insisted that there had been no change in policy, and Title 42 – the pandemic-era ruling that allowed the government to send migrants immediately back to Mexico – remained in place.
‘Over 500 migrants, mostly from #Venezuela, attempted to illegally enter the country last night through El Paso, TX,’ tweeted Peter Jaquez, chief of the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector.
‘Our authority to expel migrants under Title 42 has NOT changed.
‘Migrants from Venezuela, as well as many other countries, are still amenable for expulsion.’
Border Patrol agents are seen, in a photo shared by the El Paso sector chief, at work along the frontier
Hundreds of migrants – said by the border patrol chief to be Venezuelan – are seen lined up at the border for processing
Agents are seen detaining migrants who crossed into the U.S. illegally on Wednesday night
Migrants walked across the border having waded over the Rio Grande
Three hundred miles east of El Paso, in the tiny town of Sanderson, locals report the number of migrants arriving in their county is soaring.
Sanderson, the seat of Terrell County – home to 800 people, just north of Big Bend National Park – recorded 7,400 migrants arrested last year.
Sheriff Thaddeus Cleveland told The New York Post the number represented a 540 percent increase in the number captured since 2020, and said his county was overwhelmed and needing more staff.
The Biden administration, however, insists the situation is improving.
On Friday, the Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) said that border encounters for January were down 42 percent compared to the previous month.
The CBP said the decrease was a sign that a new initiative, announced on January 5, was working.
Migrant encounters in January were at their lowest level since February 2021
Joe Biden launched a scheme to accept up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, provided they apply at official migration centers outside the U.S. borders.
The plan would also allow the expulsion of as many migrants from those countries, who crossed illegally.
‘The January monthly operational update clearly illustrates that new border enforcement measures are working, with the lowest level of Border Patrol encounters between Ports of Entry since February of 2021,’ said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller.
‘Those trends have continued into February, with average encounters of Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans plummeting.’
Encounters of Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans fell from a seven-day average of 1,231 on the day of the announcement on January 5, to 59 on January 31.
The figures mark a 95 percent decrease in just over three weeks.
As of January 23, the number of Nicaraguans arriving had fallen by 91 percent compared with the previous month, and the Cuban arrivals were down 85 percent.
Haitian arrivals decreased 32 percent, month-on-month, and Venezuelan arrivals were down nine percent.