Shelters in a Texas city struggled to find space Saturday for migrants who authorities say have abruptly begun crossing by the thousands from Mexico, testing a stretch of the U.S. border that is typically equipped to handle large groups of people fleeing poverty and violence.
The pace of arrivals in Brownsville appeared to catch the city on the southernmost tip of Texas off guard, stretching social services and putting an overnight shelter in an uncommon position of turning people away. Officials say more than 15,000 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, have illegally crossed the river near Brownsville since last week.
That is a sharp rise from the 1,700 migrants that Border Patrol agents encountered in the first two weeks of April, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
“It’s a quite concerning because the logistical challenge that we encounter is massive for us,” said Gloria Chavez, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector.
The reason for the increase was not immediately clear. Chavez said migrants have been frustrated by relying on a glitch-plagued government app that can allow them to seek asylum at a port of entry. Some migrants who crossed this week cited other motivators, including cartel threats that immediately preceded the sudden increment.