Migrants block Gateway International Bridge - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Migrants block Gateway International Bridge

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 11:45 am

The Gateway International Bridge between Brownsville and Matamoros remains closed as migrants blocked the Mexican side of the bridge.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, about 300 migrants without entry documents had gathered at the midpoint of the bridge about 1:30 a.m. this morning.

Authorities say those MPP or Migrant Protection Protocol participants with immigration court hearings this morning are being rescheduled for a later date.

“This people have been living in a situation where there is no running water, most of the times there have been no bathrooms, they’ve gone through MPP coming and that brought a lot of changes, too. For a period of time, the Mexican National Guard had a presence there and they did not allow anyone to go up the stairs (that lead to the river). For many people, the river was the place where they were bathing, washing clothes. … Also just the daily heat, they’re out there with little to no shade," said Andrea Morris Rudnik, cofounder of Team Brownsville.

In videos posted on social media, Matamoros mayor Mario Lopez said he tried to reach an agreement with the migrants at the bridge and said he understands how they are feeling and the conditions they have been living in for months.

“I understand how you feel, you’ve been here for months and we are doing everything we can but you have to understand that we are limited, as Mexican officials, because the ones who authorize political asylum are the American authorities,” Lopez said to the migrants. “We are just part of the chain … I have offered several times to take you to the Alberca Chavez (public pool) and to the Mundo Nuevo (Matamoros Event Center), the places are there to accommodate you better.”

Lopez added he will add more showers and bathrooms to accommodate them better at the bridge.

Under a policy know as metering, U.S. officials at many border bridges accept only a few asylum-seekers per day. The Associated Press found about 19,000 names on waiting lists in four border cities visited in late July.

Frustration with U.S. policies aimed at limiting asylum requests has sparked mass attempts to cross border entries before. However, Thursday's camp-out on the Mexican side of the Matamoros bridge appeared to be more of a protest than an attempt to cross.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials closed gates on the U.S. side, apparently as a precautionary measure.

Cameron County, which operates the Gateway bridge, said it is "primarily used for local traffic, maquiladora employees, tourists and pedestrian traffic."

It said the bridge handles about 80% of the Brownsville-Matamoros pedestrian traffic.

The blockage caused long lines to form at the other international bridges leading out of Matamoros.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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