According to Vice News, Border Patrol agents in El Paso, Texas decided to move detained migrants from an open-air, fenced enclosure under a bridge to a parking lot that has “more space and more shelter capability.” The sudden move came after several days of media attention and harsh criticism from activists.
The shelter under the bridge was called a “transitional area” by Border Patrol, and was initially created to accommodate hundreds of migrant families.”
Vice News spoke with some of the migrants who were relocated from beneath the bridge to the new parking lot location. According to them, conditions at the parking lot were “even worse than sleeping under the bridge.”
One man who asked to only be called Gustavo said, “When they took me out of the bridge, I thanked God because I thought I’d be going to a better place. I get to this other jail, and they throw us in those tents. And then more and more and more people kept arriving, until it turned into chaos.”
Gustavo said the parking lot location had roughly 1,500 people crammed into 3 tents. “The kids slept on top of our feet — we were standing up, because we didn’t fit. You couldn’t see even one part of the floor. Just shoes and more shoes.”
Despite temperatures in the 40s with strong wind gusts, the migrants interviewed by Vice said they were “forced to take off any additional layers of clothing and hand them over to the officers.”
One woman who asked to only be called Syrly, said “I had to hand them my daughter’s sweater. I watched them throw it away.”
“There were 1-year-olds,” recalled Gustavo, and they “took away their blankets and they threw them in the garbage. They took away their hats. The kids trembled.”
Border Patrol didn’t provide answers to specific questions about conditions at the location, and instead released a statement that says drop-offs at locations like the parking lot and underneath the bridge have increased because of near-record-high numbers of families presenting themselves at the border.
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