EAGLE PASS, Texas (Border Report) — As thousands of asylum-seekers stream across the Rio Grande from Mexico into South Texas, Washington is taking note that the region is the epicenter for migration right now.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas plans to visit the South Texas border town of McAllen Saturday, DHS officials announced Friday.
And he intends to visit with Honduran President Xiomara Castro.
Their visit to the South Texas border comes as over 4,000 migrants have crossed illegally the Rio Grande from the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras this week into the small Texas border town of Eagle Pass.
With just 29,000 residents, Eagle Pass is quickly being inundated by migrants and law enforcement, whose presence is in the air, river and on land.
Most are Venezuelans. Border Report has been told that they’re coming amid reports that leaders in Central and South America plan to close access to the Darien Gap, in Panama, where most cross.
Mayorkas on Wednesday extended Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans for 18 more months, but that’s only for those who arrived in the United States before July 31.
Eagle Pass resident Amerika Garcia-Grewal told Border Report she doesn’t like the attention given to her hometown.
“It’s political theater. So most of what’s going on is performative and it’s not addressing the root issues of the situation, which are climate change.”
She is co-founder of the Eagle Pass Border Vigil, a group that honors migrants who lost their lives in the Rio Grande. Their next vigil is set for Oct. 2, when they will remember a 3-year-old boy who died Wednesday crossing with a group here, she said.
An emergency declaration remains in effect for this town until Wednesday, at which point it can be extended by the Eagle Pass City Council.
One of the two international bridges here also remains closed to all traffic to and from Mexico.
Meanwhile, hundreds of migrants are being processed under the shade of the remaining open bridge in triple-digit heat.
On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he has directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to deploy additional buses to assist the border communities of Eagle Pass and El Paso, which have become overwhelmed with migrant arrivals.
“President Biden’s continued refusal to secure our border invites thousands of illegal crossings into Texas and our nation each day,” Abbott said. “Texas communities like Eagle Pass and El Paso should not have to shoulder the unprecedented surge of illegal immigration caused by President Biden’s reckless open border policies. I have directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to deploy additional buses to send these migrants to self-declared sanctuary cities and provide much-needed relief to our overrun border towns. Until President Biden upholds his constitutional duty to secure America’s southern border, Texas will continue to deploy as many buses as needed to relieve the strain caused by the surge of illegal crossings.”
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, said it is up to Congress to reform outdated immigration laws and provide the resources to fix the “badly broken system.”
“Border communities like El Paso are under significant strain as a result of the large number of migrants arriving daily. Our federal employees and NGOs are overwhelmed and our local governments are doing everything possible,” she said.
Escobar this year introduced the Dignity Act, which gives undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship while shoring up border security and requiring employers to verify the work eligibility of their employees.
The bill requires a five-year technology investment plan at the U.S.-Mexico border, a $10 billion, five-year port expansion program, the hiring of additional border agents, and the establishment of a shelter services program for local communities dealing with migrants.
The Dignity Act, “provides the legislative solutions that would bring long-overdue order to this chaotic situation, and I continue to do everything in my power to advance it while ensuring our community has the federal resources we need,” Escobar said.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.