Central American refugees line up in Matamoros to wait for a chance to plead for asylum as an aid volunteer checks on their safety.
After visiting eight cities along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Associated Press found
13,000 immigrants on waiting lists to cross into the United States to start immigration proceedings.
Many, the news organization reports, are camped out in dangerous and unhealthy conditions that are outstripping the resources of local aid groups.
Immigrants seeking U.S. asylum started lining up on the Mexican side of the border after the Trump administration throttled back the number of asylum cases it hears daily at crossings. The slowdown occurred amid a spike in Central America migration as refugees flee violence, instability and government persecution in their home countries.
The AP's reporting dovetails with conditions a Current investigation found late last year
at the bridges between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville. Central American migrants were living in squalid conditions there as they waited for border patrol agents to allow a few individuals in per day to plead their cases.
AP's recent visits to migrant camps unearthed stories of violence against the waiting asylum seekers — often easy targets for drug cartels. There were 1,472 murders last year in the state of Tamaulipas, where the Reynosa crossing to McAllen is located.
Those who choose not to wait on the Mexican side also face grave danger, according to the AP investigation.
A Honduran father and three of his children are believed to have drowned in the Rio Grande River after arriving at the bridge to the town of Eagle Pass and opting to cross the river instead of waiting in line.
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