By Jose Luis Gonzalez
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) – US officials on Sunday stopped hundreds of mostly Venezuelan migrants entering the country from Mexico after a large group broke through Mexican lines to seek asylum in the US but was thwarted by barbed wire, barriers and shields.
Frustrated with difficulty securing appointments to apply for asylum using a new US government app, the migrants gathered at the border in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez but were unable to break through the border crossing between the two countries.
Many migrants had small children with them.
At one point, some migrants tried to throw an orange, plastic barrier at the American line, Reuters footage shows. Some people said pepper spray was used to repel them.
“Please, we just want to get in so we can help our families,” said Camila Paz, an 18-year-old Venezuelan, sobbing profusely. “So that I have a future and can help my family.”
Neither U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) nor the Mexican government’s National Migration Authority immediately responded to requests for comment.
After some shoving and shoving with the officials, the mob of migrants eventually retreated, and some made their way to the banks of the Rio Grande where they were checked by US immigration officials stationed on the other side.
Many migrants have grown tired of the asylum process since the Biden administration made available to them an app called CBP One that was intended to streamline applications.
They say the app is plagued by persistent outages and high demand, leaving them in limbo in dangerous border regions.
The US Department of Homeland Security has said recent app updates will simplify and speed up the process.
Paz described her situation as “terrible, terrible” and said she had been trying to cross the border for a month, saw her money disappear and got no closer to applying for asylum.
“We’d like to answer,” she said, “the (CBP One) application has done absolutely nothing for us.”
(Reporting by Jose Luis Gonzalez; Additional reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)