After a Lull, the Number of Migrants Trying to Enter the U.S. Has Soared

The shelter’s population reflected the recent shifts in the migratory flow. Last year, during the peak of the migration crisis, as many as 200 migrants slept there a night, most hoping to present themselves at the border and apply for asylum, said Gilda Irene Esquer Félix, who runs the shelter.

But since the Trump administration had effectively suspended access to the asylum program, nearly all of those migrants who had been waiting for an opportunity to cross had left the shelter, returning to their home countries, melting into Mexican society or trying to find an illegal route across the border.

In recent months, only a handful of migrants have been showing up at the shelter each day, Ms. Esquer said, with most being failed border crossers who needed a place to rest for a night or two after being caught in the United States and sent back to Mexico.

Two Mexican women traveling together were among about a dozen residents there one night last week. They had met during a failed crossing several weeks ago and had since tried three other times, to no avail.

“Various friends have been successful,” lamented Dinora, 24, who allowed publication of only her first name. She had been compelled to migrate, she said, after she lost her job as a seamstress in a factory in her home state of Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico.

She had heard that the Americans were not detaining people, making it much easier to try again. But after four failed crossings, and the duress of trying to cross the desert, she had decided to head back home.

“No more,” she said.

Her friend, however, was determined to try again.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

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