RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – A surge of asylum seekers have attempted to rush through the international bridges across south Texas, slowing down wait times for travelers.
Over a dozen immigrants have been arrested since the first rush occurred earlier this month when they assaulted officers in their attempt to reach U.S. soil.
The international bridges across the Rio Grande Valley are experiencing longer wait times than usual as U.S. Customs and Border Protection works toward keeping asylum seekers from rushing the ports of entry.
“It takes a long time to cross to this side in Hidalgo,” says Elizabeth Navarro, a Reynosa resident.
Elizabeth lives in Reynosa and crosses through the Hidalgo International bridge on weekends to shop in McAllen but says things have changed in the last couple of weeks since CBP started shutting down bridges.
“They’re on the other side waiting for them to let them come through,” Elizabeth continues.
She tells us she’s noticed more asylum seekers on the Mexican side, planning their next move. Earlier this month the Hidalgo and Brownsville Ports of Entry shut down after hundreds of migrants attempted to rush through the bridges by force.
“You have some people that have gone a little desperate and they might be using a taxi or a car or just running across the bridge,” Says Congressman Henry Cuellar.
CBP officers now have checkpoints in the middle of bridges blocking lanes with concertina wire and barricades, pre-checking passports prior to the main kiosk.
“Now it takes me three to four hours,” says Pablo Navarro, a Reynosa resident.
Pablo Navarro lives in Reynosa but works in Hidalgo. He tells us his typical hour commute has turned into three to four hours.
In a statement to Local 23, CBP tells us placing officers on the bridge assures legal entry to the United States. Adding CBP continues to monitor the situation at each port of entry and is in constant communication with Mexican and U.S. authorities to prevent these types of incidents.
As of right now, the Pharr International Bridge remains closed to passenger vehicles and at the Hidalgo Bridge only one lane is open for incoming traffic.
The Pharr International Bridge is only open for passenger vehicles from four in the afternoon to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.