(MAINNEWS) – EL PASO, Texas A trio of Venezuelan migrants who crossed into the US illegally endured a harrowing first few days in Texas sleeping on rainy streets and trying to scrounge up enough money to head elsewhere for work.
Ana Gabriela Garcia, her husband and their travel companion Edgar Rodriguez recounted their first week stateside after admitting they risked it all to jump the border illegally when Title 42 was suddenly extended.
“We came illegally through a gate in the border wall,” Garcia told The Post during an interview in an El Paso church on Thursday. “We know the risks … pros and cons, but we have to make the sacrifice.”
The three migrants who The Post first met in Juarez, Mexico Tuesday were among thousands waiting at the Mexican border to cross into the US legally when Title 42 was supposed to end Dec. 21. They hoped to ask for asylum.
Instead, the federal policy that has allowed the US Border Patrol to keep out asylum-seeking migrants, like Venezuelans, was extended. The extension meant migrants from Venezuela are still subject to being kicked out of the US and sent back to Mexico.
The three had to decide — wait until June for US courts to make a decision on the future of Title 42 or cross into the US illegally now. Waiting in Mexico was not an option, they claimed.
On Wednesday night, the trio snuck into the US.
Speaking in El Paso on Thursday, Garcia said she is eager to work to send money back to her three daughters, ages 2, 6 and 9, she left behind in Venezuela.
“We have thought … we may get deported while traveling, but we have to try,” the migrant mom said. “We decided to make the sacrifice for them so they didn’t have to live through this, because it hasn’t been easy.
“Santa didn’t come this year. The girls are afraid we left them behind.”
The three have $50 saved up and are trying to collect more money for bus fare to either Dallas or Denver. Their illegal status means they can’t legally travel on planes or buses.
“We have jobs waiting for us in Denver — we just need to be able to get there,” Garcia said.
Garcia suffered bruises on her feet from walking for weeks from Venezuela to the US, crossing the notorious and deadly Darien Gap and several countries to get to the US-Mexico border.
Her travel companion, Rodriguez, said he was attacked by a monkey in the jungle and willing to do anything to get care.
“He dropped down from the trees while we sleeping and went for my foot,” Rodriguez said. “I got medical attention just to close the wound but still need to be checked out.”
The number of illegal immigrants in El Paso will only grow now that the US Supreme Court kept Title 42 has been kept in place, El Paso Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino predicted. While the city has funding to house legally admitted asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, like Garcia, her hubby and Rodriguez, have nowhere to go.
Migrants who have not been vetted by federal authorities have now started sleeping in the streets of downtown El Paso, mixed in with legal migrants amid freezing temperatures with only blankets for warmth.
On Thursday night, Garcia, her husband and Rodriguez slept in the rain on the cold streets.
“If they continue to get in undetected, we’re going to continue to have this population grow within this community,” said D’Agostino.
Only the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have the legal authority to take those illegal immigrants into custody, he said.
“We’re reaching out with all our partners, our federal partners, because at the end of the day is a process, a process that everyone needs to follow and we really need to make this sustainable for everybody.”
The Border Patrol told The Post it’s aware of the situation, citing the arrest of illegal immigrants riding on commercial buses north of El Paso.
The 60 illegal immigrants who had made their way onto three buses — blending in with legal migrants — but were stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint north of El Paso where vehicles are inspected.
The illegal migrants were sorted out and detained, Border Patrol officials said.
By MaryAnn Martinez