In the span of four hours on Friday evening, March 26, some 300 undocumented adult migrants, most traveling with one or two minors, crossed the border between the cities of Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas and Roma, Texas to turn themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol. Accompanying the group were around 20 minors traveling on their own.
Border authorities find dozens of groups of migrants every day, most of them Central American, waiting for nightfall to cross the Rio Grande. The sun dips below the border wall in Peñitas, Texas, a heavily-surveilled crossing point.
After nightfall in Roma, Texas, nobody was running to evade authorities. Groups of 5, 10, even 20 people traveled along the side of the road to turn themselves in to Border Patrol and claim asylum. Every night, agents wait for the groups of Central Americans to arrive.
After crossing the river, migrants walk hastily for a half-hour through the weeds and dusty roads, leaving clothing, plastic bags, and other belongings in their wake.
Whole families wait in the bushes. Staying hidden during the day, some cross the river on rafts at night. This Honduran family told a Border Patrol agent they were seeking asylum in the United States.
Dozens of minors take shelter in their parents’ arms as a large group sits in the dirt. They wait for hours to formally register with U.S. officials in Roma, Texas. Neighbors approach along the river to leave water and food.
Ten adults in this Border Patrol truck, along with some children, turned themselves in. The radio chatters information about their transfer to Carrizo Springs, a detention center some 220 miles away near San Antonio Texas.
This woman, six months pregnant and traveling alone, crossed the Rio Grande by raft and traveled through the brush for half an hour.
At this key crossing point along the nearly 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico, most of the Central American migrants turning themselves in to claim asylum come from Honduras and are fleeing both violence and devastation left by two hurricanes that, amid the pandemic, slammed into the impoverished country last November.
A woman carries her son in her arms in front of Border Patrol agents. She, too, emerged from hiding in the brush to turn herself in. “I already feel relieved to be here,” she told an agent who received her. The agents on patrol didn’t take the time to talk to each of the detained migrants.
Waiting alongside other migrants with his son in his arms, a man rests as his family registers with officials. The family set off together a month ago from San Marcos, Guatemala.
The Border Patrol has erected an improvised processing center on a dirt road parallel to the highway heading to Roma. In the last two weeks, every night agents have processed dozens of Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran asylum seekers.
Three children cry and cling to their grandmother, who at first ran in fear when she saw the Border Patrol agents. She was separated from the group and, a few hours later, was transferred to a detention center. The family of five Hondurans are fleeing the violence. “She’s all that I have. If you send her back they’re going to kill her,” her daughter told a Border Patrol agent, as her children hugged their grandmother in the early hours of March 27.
*This article was supported by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). Translated by Roman Gressier and John Washington.