JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Despite the hardship of a 3,000-mile trip and the frustration of not being allowed into the United States, seven Venezuelan couples on Tuesday pledged eternal love to their partners in Juarez
Most have been together for years and made the dangerous trek through Central America and Mexico together. But what they heard at the border about the way U.S. immigration laws view unmarried couples made them decide to marry.
“I am going to apply for asylum and don’t want to be separated from my husband,” said Elicar Garcia, one of the brides. “God willing, everything will go well now.”
The Venezuelans walked, rode or flew to Juarez just after the U.S. on Oct. 12 decided to apply the controversial Title 42 expulsions to Venezuelan asylum seekers.
Many of the Venezuelans who are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months lack sponsors in the U.S. that send them money to survive the transition; hundreds are still living in tents along the Rio Grande just across from El Paso, Texas. Such hardships strengthened the bonds of the couples who decided to tie the knot on Tuesday.
Juarez authorities and an El Paso nonprofit helped Garcia and the other brides procure dresses and other apparel suitable for a once-in-a-lifetime event and provided the events hall. Some pulled money out of their own pocket to send the brides to the beauty shop and provide a wedding feast.
“Very often for people (immigration) is just issues and it is not human beings who are in very specific situations,” said Sami DiPasquale, executive director of Abara/Borderland Connections, an El Paso nonprofit that has been helping migrants in Juarez. “If this was my wedding, I would want it to be as beautiful as possible no matter what the situation was.”
Two large Mexican and Venezuelan flags provided the background for a judge from the state of Chihuahua to officiate the civil ceremony. The grooms, who earlier could be seen coming into the building in shorts and flip-flops, came out in black tuxedos and sat in folding chairs next to their brides.
Most have been romantic partners for a few years, while others left their children in the care of relatives when they opted to seek asylum in the U.S., said Enrique Valenzuela, director of the Chihuahua Population Council.
“Despite the fact they’ve been long-time companions, this is something new for them and they are celebrating this occasion,” Valenzuela said. “In most of these cases, their children are back in Venezuela or in the other countries where they have traveled through.”
Almost 7 million Venezuelans have left their country in the past decade because of an economic collapse and political repression from the Nicolas Maduro regime, according to Latin American experts.
Border Report has interviewed Venezuelan migrants in Juarez and in El Paso that were living in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil prior to setting off for the United States. Those migrants saw jobs in those South American countries dry up as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic; some say the economic recovery has been slow coming in Latin America.
Valenzuela said migrants from Venezuela and Central America continue to arrive in Juarez, albeit not in as large a number as before October 12. However, Juarez officials said they are closely monitoring if the U.S. government is going to abide by a federal judge’s ruling vacating Title 42. If that happens, they said, traditionally slow December migrant flows to the U.S.-Mexico border could shoot up.