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Venezuelan Migrants in El Paso Fear Detentions and Mass Deportations

Migrantes venezolanos en El Paso temen detenciones y deportaciones masivas

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Uncertainty is growing among migrants, mostly Venezuelans, living in the Texas town of El Paso. They fear being detained and prosecuted by the US Border Patrol, reported El Paso Matters.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen to us,” said Yosimar, a 20-year-old Venezuelan who arrived on December 31. They hope to get to New York City to find work and earn more than the $15 a month they earned in Venezuela: “We feel trapped now because they told us not to leave or we might get caught by immigration”.

During the last few weeks, dozens of migrants have gathered around the Sacred Heart church. Police presence has also increased.

Migrant detention

Border Patrol agents stopped pickup trucks full of migrants Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. And while it has not been the first time Border Patrol, El Paso Police or state troopers have stopped or arrested migrants in the area, this week’s apprehensions may be the largest yet.

“They came and asked people for their papers,” said a tearful 25-year-old Colombian migrant on Wednesday morning.

“From what I saw, what I witnessed, no one was mistreated. They approached people and then escorted them to the vans. They took men, women, children, whole families,” he said.

But there was chaos, and many tears, he said. He and many others ran and hid. Some like him returned to the area hours later.

“People were crying because they were separating families. It was a hard blow. It was emotional, it shocked people,” said the Colombian migrant, who did not want to give his name.

“We traveled for months to get here. We crossed the jungle in the Darien Gap. We were stopped again and again in Mexico. And now we are here only to be sent back,” he said.

Border Patrol

A Venezuelan migrant who chose not to give his name said he walked to a nearby store and missed the Border Patrol detentions. He returned to his spot along Mesa and Father Rahm streets to find the area nearly empty.

“They took my brother. There’s all his stuff,” said the 23-year-old, pointing to the duffel bags piled on the sidewalk.

“They told us they would be sent back to Mexico, but we don’t know where in Mexico,” he said.

El Paso police reported that the department has increased its presence around Sacred Heart Church, where they have also made several arrests in recent days.