Crossings at border strain resources

Migrant children and families arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border at outdoor intake sites, then are taken to overcrowded facilities well past the 72-hour court-imposed limit. Shelters are quickly filling up.


National News

March 25, 2021 - 9:40 AM

MISSION, TEXAS - MISSION, TEXAS - March 23, 2021—Migrant Guillermo Alejandro Valle, holds his son Jonathan, age 2, at a shelter in Mission, Texas. Valle said that he and his family spent three days shivering under the bridge for three days with his sons – 11 month-old Axel and 2 year-old Jonathan – felt like part of the price. Cold and dirty, he didn't sleep. "This is how we suffer to get here," Valle said after being released Tuesday to a local shelter, where he washed and changed into donated clothes. March 23, 2021 in Mission, Texas. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) — Elmer Maldonado spent a week in immigration custody with his 1-year-old son after crossing the Rio Grande through Texas to request asylum. One night, the Honduran father and son slept on the dirt under a bridge shivering from the cold temperatures at an intake site where large groups of migrants turn themselves in to Border Patrol officers.

His experience illustrates a cycle that is repeating itself thousands of times a week amid a dramatic rise in migrant children and families at the U.S.-Mexico border: They arrive in the middle of the night by the dozens and are kept at outdoor intake sites, then taken to overcrowded detention facilities well past the 72-hour court-imposed limit. From there, the families are either released into the U.S. or expelled to Mexico, the lucky ones dropped off at a COVID-19 testing site with documents. Children traveling without their parents go to federal shelters that are also quickly filling up.

The process is largely out of the public eye. The Associated Press has not been allowed in any of the Border Patrol facilities. Journalists are often limited by authorities even when going the banks of the Rio Grande to witness the process and talk to immigrants.

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