By Cedar Attanasio and Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press
About 50 asylum seekers stood this week in a circle near a bridge between the United States and Mexico to hear an American attorney explain what would happen to them when they entered U.S. custody.
The attorney, Jodi Goodwin, told them they would probably end up at one of the Border Patrol’s smaller stations, which migrants call “la hielera” — Spanish for icebox because of their cold temperatures.
Goodwin advised them to wear heavy clothing and eat a hearty meal before crossing the bridge. In a carrying voice, she repeated in Spanish, “Eat well and dress well.”
The advice reflects reality on the border, where a lack of space means some immigrants must sleep on floors in Border Patrol stations, while others are held in military-style tents next to an El Paso bridge. The government is opening two new tent cities — in El Paso and in the Rio Grande Valley — that will hold 1,000 parents and families and expand the Border Patrol’s capacity to hold and process the surge of immigrants who have arrived in recent months and overwhelmed authorities. The capacity could be expanded at some point.
“I hope it’s enough,” said Carmen Qualia, executive officer for the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector. “We don’t know what we don’t know.”
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection