The crisis, Mr. Lozano said, is “completely surreal.”
Overall, unauthorized immigration has reached levels not seen in two decades. Last month alone, more than 200,000 migrants crossed the border from Mexico, bringing the total for this fiscal year to about 1.5 million.
More recently, the number of Haitians making their way through the Del Rio region, a desolate 245-mile stretch, has also increased to new heights. That surge began in June, a period that saw more than twice as many Haitians crossing the border illegally compared with the prior month. It is a trend that has not slowed, with Haitians continuing to flee the despair in their native country, according to recent border statistics.
Over the weekend, a few miles from the gas station, the situation under the bridge remained dire. Trash was everywhere, and some migrants created their own makeshift tents out of foliage and children’s blankets, with cheery images of Disney characters and superheroes like Batgirl juxtaposed against the otherwise dreary environment.
Some migrants said they had been given a number that indicated when they would be processed. But only a few have made it past the bridge. Those with a sponsor or a relative living in the United States, often having made the dangerous journey with children, are given temporary permits to remain in the country until an immigration judge can hear their case.
Anouse Sarazin, a 29-year-old Haitian migrant, and her 7-month-old daughter, Ymshy, were among the few who were processed this past week by border authorities. After spending 11 days under the bridge, both sought refuge beneath a sliver of shade as they waited for a bus. Ms. Sarazin has been granted a temporary stay, she said as she watched her daughter play with a plastic bag containing important documents.
Her lips quivered and she was at a loss for words when asked to describe what she experienced. “Bad, very difficult,” said Ms. Sarazin in broken Spanish. “What we need is help. We had to leave. I had to take the chance.”
On Friday, back at the Del Rio International Bridge, a small group of local residents gathered at the American side of the border wall. Comparisons to scenes of disaster movies were inevitable as a constant stream of heavily armed National Guard and state police passed by. With every police vehicle barreling toward the bridge, their sirens blaring, residents stretched their necks to catch a glimpse of the commotion.