The Gateway International Bridge between Matamoros, Tamaulipas, and Brownsville, Texas, was blocked on Thursday by as many as 400 migrants waiting for asylum hearings in the United States.
The occupation, which began about 1:30am, affected drivers and pedestrians who cross the bridge on a daily basis for work or school.
Federal forces were sent to the Mexico side of the border crossing and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents were posted on the north side of the bridge.
Activist Gladys Cañas of the migrants’ support organization Ayudándoles a Triunfar (Helping them Triumph) attempted to convince the migrants, most of whom are from Central America, to leave the bridge on Thursday morning.
“You are affecting the economy of us Mexicans and also of those in the United States. This is not worth it, guys. I’m asking you to reconsider; this is not the way to find a solution,” she said.
“You are affecting many people who work, and many people who study. We aren’t the ones responsible for the situation you are in,” she added.
The bridge is used primarily by local traffic, factory workers, tourists and pedestrians.
In July, the Associated Press found about 19,000 names on lists of asylum-seekers in four Mexican border cities.
The mayor of Matamoros told the migrants Thursday morning that he sympathized with their plight. “I understand how you feel, you’ve been here for months and we are doing everything we can but you have to understand that we are limited, as Mexican officials, because the ones who authorize political asylum are the American authorities,” Mario López said.
By mid-afternoon on Thursday, the crossing remained closed.