Thousands of migrants have flocked over the United States’ southern border desperate to turn themselves in to federal immigration officials before Thursday’s expiry of Title 42 in the hopes they’ll be granted asylum — and with it, the chance of a new life.
Here are the stories of migrants who either have been admitted to America and given a court date — or are still on the other side, waiting.
Kevin Perez, 21, Venezuela
Kevin Perez and his sister walked, rode rails, took buses and flew in airplanes during their month-long trek to the border from their home in Venezuela.
They aimed for Juarez, he told The Post.
But they were waved off by other migrants who said US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were there in force and ready to deport.
So they headed toward Brownsville, where they were told military members and border patrol agents would be easier to deal with.
They pitched themselves into the Rio Grande at Matamoros, and swam as fast as they could to the other side, they turned themselves in.
“They stripped us and took all of our belongings — they only let us keep small personal things like my watch and my phone,” he said.
“We were handcuffed, as if we were criminals and not people looking for a better life.”
Perez was shuttled to three processing facilities in Texas before his May 9 release.
He’d been sleeping outside the Brownsville bus station, waiting for his sister, when he got a weeping voicemail from her saying she’d been deported.
“It was a disaster,” she said through tears in the message.
“They accosted us, took everything, they handcuffed some of us and put ankle bracelets on others, women, children … They didn’t let us in, they took us back, what do I do?”
Perez – who has an August 2023 court date with an immigration judge – is waiting for his family to send him money so he can buy a plane ticket to his ultimate destination, Maryland.
Shawayne, 27, Jamiaca
Shawayne, originally from Kingston, Jamaica, told The Post that he and his tired, hungry 7-year-old son had been hiding in the bushes for two days – until Border Patrol told them they didn’t need to hide anymore.
They lined up at an encampment near Dairy Mart Road in San Diego, which sits on American soil that’s pancaked between two border walls.
He left his home because his family had been threatened, although he didn’t go into specifics.
“There are a lot of people after my family,” he said.
“Police is no good [for protection]. Even my son is scared … The area we lived in, it’s risky.”
He said he was hoping the United States grant him asylum before Title 42 expires on Thursday.
“I need a better life for my son,” he said.
Steven told The Post that he and his family had fled their native Ecuador because there were “a lot of crimes and corruption.”
They trekked through the jungle with 15 other people, who helped him and his wife, Jenny, by taking turns carrying his bags and his 2-year-old son, Michael.
They made it to the border near San Ysidro – a district in southern San Diego, just north of Mexico – about two days ago. They were given a number, a wristband and told to sit and wait, he said.
The migrant encampment gets cold, Steven said.
He’s asked Border Patrol agents for trash bags so they can swaddle their son at night to keep him warm.
He was in limbo, waiting to be seen by border agents and processed into America Thursday.
He remained hopeful and said he wants to get into the US to provide a better life for his young family.
“We are going on faith because we’ve suffered so much already,” he said.
Keiver Alvarez-Diaz, 27, Venezuela
Alvarez-Diaz and his wife started their long journey from Venezuela to the southern border about a month ago, he told The Post.
After they crossed the Rio Grande on Sunday, when they promptly surrendered to border patrol agents, he said.
Authorities separated them, and Alvarez-Diaz spent days in a processing facility before his May 9 release.
From there he went to a bus station in Brownsville, Texas, where he waited with about 70 other migrant men who were also separated from their wives and kids upon their crossing.
Some had been waiting for days with no word of their families’ whereabouts.
Alvarez-Diaz slept outside the station, waiting for his wife to arrive so they could go to Dallas.
Then he found out she’d already been deported.
“I don’t understand any of it – why turn away women, my wife?” said Alvarez-Diaz, who has a 2027 court date with an immigration judge.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I came all this way, just to learn it was for nothing.”
Leonel Rojas, 20, and Gerber, 19, Venezuela
Leonel Rojas told The Post that he arrived in Juarez on Wednesday afternoon.
He’d taken the train to get here, and he doesn’t have a final destination. He just wants to get across the border before Title 42 ends – once it does, those who get deported might be banished from the United State for five years.
But there are no penalties for those deported under Title 42.
He’s willing to do whatever it takes to stay — no matter what sort of job he must work when he arrives.
“Once I get in, I’ll find my way,” said Rojas. “We’re going to do whatever — wash plates, pick up trash, whatever. As long as we can be on the other side working.”
‘We’re not going back,” he continued. “There’s nothing for us there. Even if I have to jump the border wall. We went through so much to get here for us not to try. I’ll climb it and if I die trying, at least I tried.
“But the goal is to get in – there’s no turning back,” Rojas said. “There’s no more to say.”
He came this far with his friend, Gerber. The two hopped train cars to get to Juarez.
Gerber, a father of two, said he’s trying to meet a friend in Chicago.
“In Venezuela, there’s no life,” he told The Post. “We want the American dream.”
Many more migrants are on their way, he said. And they are just as desperate.
“There’s people who went through hell in that jungle,” Gerber said, referring to Darien Gap, a remote stretch of treacherous rainforest that connects Central and South America.
“They were robbed, raped — for what? So they could get here and not be allowed?” he said. “No … The people are going to find a way to get in.”
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