Rosa Maria Trejo got to the Mexican capital thanks to a brother residing in Arizona who sent money to help finance the difficult trip from their native Venezuela. He now provides cash for food and lodging at a small hotel while she figures out what to do next.
She hasn’t abandoned her plan to get to the United States.
“I don’t want to stay in Mexico, but I also don’t want to go back to Venezuela,” said Trejo, 27. “My brother tells me it’s best to wait here until the situation in the United States changes.”
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans who are stuck in Mexico appear to be making the same calculation as hope spreads that the United States will soon start letting them in again — two months after federal agents began turning them away at the border without a chance to apply for political asylum.
The authority to keep them out came from a decades-old public health law, Title 42, that was resurrected by the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration fought the law in court but used it anyway — first for Mexicans and Central Americans but then for Venezuelans after record numbers converged on the border, political pressure mounted to crack down, and Mexico agreed to let them back in.
As a result, Venezuelans are ubiquitous in shelters, soup kitchens and homeless encampments from the sweltering jungles of Panama to the streets of this traffic-clogged capital to desert towns along the Rio Grande. Some beg for coins and food; others rely on charity, odd jobs and help from relatives.
Last month, however, a federal judge ruled that the application of Title 42 to restrict immigration was “arbitrary and capricious,” giving the Biden administration until Dec. 21 to end the practice.
What border strategy the White House will employ next remains to be seen. Many Venezuelans who are stuck in Mexico have adopted a wait-and-see approach.
“A lot of people are saying that the Americans are going to give us another chance — but we don’t know anything with clarity,” said Carlos Fernández, 36. “I want to have faith, to believe that we will be able to cross into the United States.”