By ALFREDO PENA Associated Press
(AP) — Migrants wanting to request asylum camped out Thursday on an international bridge leading from Mexico into Brownsville, causing a closure of the span.
Hundreds of migrants from Central America and elsewhere stretched out on the bridge before dawn, with some laying down on mats or their coats. The crowd including children and babies.
An employee at the Gateway International Bridge that connects downtown Matamoros, Mexico with Brownsville confirmed that the bridge remained closed as of about 10:00 a.m. local time Thursday.
A Mexican official who was not authorized to be named confirmed the blockage of the bridge.
The official said the migrants were tired of waiting to make their initial claims for asylum at a U.S. border crossing.
Under a policy know as metering, U.S. officials at many border bridges accept only a few asylum-seekers per day. The Associated Press found about 19,000 names on waiting lists in four border cities visited in late July.
Frustration with U.S. policies aimed at limiting asylum requests has sparked mass attempts to cross border entries before. However, Thursday’s camp-out on the Mexican side of the Matamoros bridge appeared to be more of a protest than an attempt to cross.
Nevertheless, U.S. officials closed gates on the U.S. side, apparently as a precautionary measure.
Cameron County, which operates the Gateway bridge, said it is “primarily used for local traffic, maquiladora employees, tourists and pedestrian traffic.”
It said the bridge handles about 80% of the Brownsville-Matamoros pedestrian traffic.
The blockage caused long lines to form at the other international bridges leading out of Matamoros.