Migrant Population Flows in South Texas
Exhausted and dazed, hundreds of Central American migrants, mainly women with small children, come to the bus station of this border city every day now, spilling into a church next door that has opened its doors. Having crossed into the United States illegally, the new arrivals are often grimy and famished. In the church, they eat, bathe and sleep, changing into donated shoes and clothes.
With no immigration detention site equipped for women with children in the area — the closest one, in Pennsylvania, is overbooked — they are freed by the Border Patrol with a bus ticket to travel to where they have relatives in this country, and an order to appear in immigration court in 30 days.
They are among at least 30,000 migrants released this year, border officials and federal lawmakers said, amid a surge of illegal crossings in the Rio Grande Valley.
While most men are held and processed quickly for deportation, border authorities struggling to manage the influx have been releasing pregnant women and parents with young children, allowing them to join family members living here and issuing them a deportation hearing notice. Migrants have sent word back home they received a “permit” to remain at least temporarily in the United States, feeding rumors along migrant routes and spurring others to embark on the long journey.