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Juan Mendez III, the mayor of Brownsville, known as Trey, said his community could help migrants continue their journey to their loved ones in the United States as they go about their business. The number of migrants released so far in the city is paltry compared to 2019, when hundreds of families per day were dropped off at the local bus station.

“If it’s several hundred overnight, then it’s something that would become overwhelming for us,” Mendez said, adding that the rate of coronavirus positivity among freed migrants hovers around 10-15%. , compared to 25% for the community of Brownsville at large. “The administration is very aware of this – we have passed it on many times.”

On Saturday, border officials dropped off a dozen migrants, all mothers and young children, in front of the Brownsville bus station. Within minutes, a team of city officials and volunteers had started setting up a station to test for the coronavirus. With a negative test, they were allowed to enter the station to continue their journey. If they tested positive, the volunteers used donations to pay for their quarantine at a local hotel – although it wasn’t required. In three hours, the number of migrants at the station rose to around 50.

Doris, a mother of two boys who fled a former violent partner in Guatemala and crossed the border in recent weeks, did not expect to receive tests, blankets or coloring books for her children when she was dropped off Saturday.

“They are very good people,” she said of the city’s staff and volunteers.

A similar effort is underway in Matamoros. At the northern end of the encampment, which contains around 1,000 migrants, authorities are putting the finishing touches on a large tent where migrant families will be tested for the coronavirus before crossing into the United States. Red Cross volunteers marched around a camp that has been neglected for months by the Mexican and US governments.

A Honduran, Walter Lara, who had lived in the camp since November 2019, was so excited at the prospect of entering the United States that he asked another asylum seeker to give him a haircut for the opportunity. He was ready to be patient.

“We believe in the process that will happen,” said Lara.

Elsewhere, confusion reigned. People blocked by ‘staying in Mexico’ struggled to register through the administration’s online system and were frustrated that new arrivals were released across the border, Ms. D’Cruz said. .

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