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Migrants cross into Texas, undeterred by razor wire or new asylum rules


-For the past several days large groups of migrants, mostly from Venezuela, have been wading across the Rio Grande river near a railroad bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas, undeterred by coils of razor wire laid along the banks.

witnessed migrants crossing, sometimes dozens at a time and at times with small children, navigating strong currents to then make their way through the sharp wire put up by the Texas national guard. Once on U.S. soil they waited in the hot sun to turn themselves in to U.S. border officials for processing.

Under a new rule put in place in May by the administration of President Joe Biden, migrants who have not sought an appointment to cross at a legal port of entry on a government-run cellphone app known as CBP One can face a higher bar to asylum and potentially swift deportation.

Migrant numbers had initially plummeted after the announcement, but in recent weeks began rising again as thousands of migrants – many fleeing Venezuela – making their way through south and central America began arriving at the border.

The upswing in arrivals has generated a new wave of political attacks on Biden, who is running for re-election next year. Former President Donald Trump, who made hardline immigration policy central to his term in office, is leading in Republican polls as a likely challenger to Biden in 2024.

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has repeatedly blasted Biden, a Democrat, for not doing enough to curb illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, with numbers of migrant crossings on pace to approach record highs in September.

Texas authorities placed massive floating buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande in an attempt to deter migrants, but earlier this month a U.S. federal judge ordered the state to remove them to the embankment. Texas is appealing the ruling.

Abbott says small border towns have been overwhelmed and criticized Border Patrol agents on social media on Sept. 20 for cutting down wire installed by the state.

“The concertina wire and other structures that have been placed along the border are to deter these dangerous and illegal crossings,” Texas Department of Public Safety Press Secretary Ericka Miller said.

A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection noted that once migrants cross the river they are on U.S. soil. The Border Patrol has the right to remove or alter obstacles in order to be able to safely take migrants into custody, the agency has said.

“If they start getting swept away by the currents, if they start succumbing to the environment, the extreme temperatures, the humidity you all feel right now, and my men and women see that, they are not going to let somebody die or get into harm’s way,” Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens said in a statement to reporters in Eagle Pass on Tuesday.

Earlier this month nine migrants died as they were trying to cross the river into Eagle Pass.

Neither the physical barriers put up by Texas nor the Biden administration message that crossing illegally could have tougher immigration consequences have apparently deterred the hundreds of migrants crossing into Eagle Pass from the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras. Many arrive following a long journey on top of cargo trains.

The arrival of groups of migrants throughout the week also comes despite efforts by Mexican authorities to stop them from traveling north across the country.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comments on the crossings in Eagle Pass. Mexican immigration officials did not respond to a request for comment.

“We want a better future for our families,” Venezuelan migrant Johendry Chourio said on Thursday after arriving in Piedras Negras by train. “We want to get ahead and we’re eager to work.”

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