Harlingen, Texas (KVEO) — On Thursday morning, a small group of asylum seekers were the first to enter the U.S. through the Gateway International Bridge into Brownsville.
27 migrants crossed the bridge, and the goal for the next couple of days is to increase that number.
“Today represented a day that ended a nightmare,” said attorney Laura Peña.
Peña said that for some living at the migrant camp in Matamoros was a nightmare.
“We saw tears of joy,” she said. “We saw people with expressions of shock that they could not believe that this nightmare was coming to an end.”
Before boarding the bus, the migrants were tested for COVID-19, and processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Once processed, they traveled to a bus station in Brownsville.
“God bless America!,” said Ofelia Alonso, an asylum seeker from Cuba. “Thank God we’re here in the land of the free,” she said moments after stepping off the bus.
Sister Norma Pimentel from Catholic Charities of the RGV said that she felt overwhelmed.
“It’s so amazing, [from] seeing them suffer [to seeing] them to be here now,” said Pimentel.
Although 27 migrants entered the U.S., there are still more than 1,000 asylum seekers at the camp in Matamoros. Local activists and attorneys said that the goal is to increase that number and that today was a test.
“The encampment specifically in Matamoros is a mark on the history of the United States’ government the violations and atrocities that have happened under the Migrant Protection Protocols is a disgrace and it is coming to an end.”
Immigration attorney and member of the Welcoming Committee of the Rio Grande Valley, Jodi Goodwin said that Friday’s goal will be to release 100 migrants and if everything goes well. They expect those who enrolled in MPP at the camp to be released in less than a week’s time.