YUMA, Arizona (Border Report) — You have probably never heard of the Yuma Gap, but many migrants from all over the world are certainly finding out about it.
It’s located in a small corner along the southern border where Arizona, California and Mexico intersect.
The border barrier is here, but there are many areas where it’s open and not connected.
Just to the east in Arizona, there is a large cauliflower field and many other stretches of agriculture where workers go about their day’s work within shouting distance of where the migrants congregate on the U.S. side of the border.
This is also where the Colorado River flows into the Mexican state of Sonora, where right now the water level is very low and it’s just a slow-moving trickle.
Migrants like Davis Ornelas have discovered the area offers an “easier” pathway into the United States.
“I heard this place was tranquil and easy to get across,” said Ornelas, who traveled with his young daughter form Venezuela. “I got to Mexico yesterday and came straight here.”
He said their trek across the river was uneventful with the water level reaching just above their ankles.
Ornelas and his 6-year-old daughter Anli have relatives already living north of the border.
“I want to go live with my sisters and my mother, I want to give my daughter a better future and a chance to be happy with her family,” he said.
After stepping on U.S. soil, which is now littered with empty water bottles, old bags of grapes and hardened biscuits, Ornelas, like others who are crossing the border through the Yuma Gap, wait for Border Patrol agents to pick them up, but it’s a wait that can take hours.
When Border Report approached Ornelas, he and his daughter had been waiting for almost two hours and were munching on a strawberry Pop-Tart and cold burrito.
Their goal is to be processed and request asylum at this point.
It’s been widely discussed that unless you’re from Mexico, just about anyone will be given a chance to seek asylum.
That’s probably why many of the migrants here are from all over the world including Russia, Uzbekistan, Nepal, India, Haiti, Ecuador, Brazil, the Republic of Georgia and many other countries.
“This is a tragic situation, a humanitarian crisis,” said Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines. “I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but we could sure use some federal assistance, the processing center is overwhelmed, they can’t keep up.”
Lines also runs the area’s food bank and has been bringing food to the migrants.
“I’ve spoken to people who haven’t eaten in three days, and this is not a safe area… yesterday, after we delivered some food, the night before several of the groups we were assisting were held up at gunpoint from across the border; they crossed the border and threatened them at gunpoint, so not necessarily a safe area.”
Lines expects the situation to get worse before it gets any better.
“I’m here because the United States offers more opportunities,” said Ruli, a migrant from Haiti. “There is nothing for me at home, it can’t offer me anything like the U.S. can.”
Ruli said his journey began four years ago after leaving Haiti for Chile.
From there he traveled through South America, Central America and finally this year he made it to Mexico where he heard about the Yuma Gap.
He was part of a group of eight, also from Haiti, who easily walked across the river and waited for agents to pick him up.
“Do you know when they are coming?” he asked.
Sadly, we could not give him an answer.
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