A bus ferried 25 migrants from Matamoros and into U.S. soil through the Brownsville port of entry Thursday morning, marking the end of their nearly two-year perseverance under the Migrant Protection Protocols, a Trump era program that forced them to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings.

Immigration attorneys speak to members of the news media Thursday morning outside the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville as migrants who’ve waited two years to seek asylum in the U.S. are finally being allowed to enter the country from Matamoros, Mexico.
(Valerie Gonzalez | vgonzalez@themonitor.com)

Jodi Goodwin, an immigration attorney, arrived early in Brownsville to cross into Matamoros to assess those she’s helped for years.

“I have more than two years working in Matamoros. They’re people I know for a long time. It’s so late in coming this day. So late,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin began hosting “charlas” at the plaza by Gateway International Bridge where migrants were first stalled by a metering process under the zero tolerance policy.

The Trump administration later began implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, along the border. It prevented many from waiting for their asylum claims from U.S. soil and instead sent them to Mexico.

As of Wednesday night, Goodwin said there were a little under 700 people in the Matamoros camp. A census was taken and each migrant adult received a bracelet indicating their nationality, location in the camp and number of family members.

The numbers of people living in the camp fluctuated since it was created, as unsanitary and dangerous conditions pushed many out to the city, further into Mexico or back to their home countries.

After Thursday, those who qualify for reprocessing but are not living at the camp will be moved into the U.S. from 25 scaling up to 100 people a day.

Non-governmental groups like Team Brownsville and Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley are assisting migrants by helping them coordinate their travel plans, provide meals and shelter upon release from federal custody.

The bus is expected to take some of the released families to the McAllen respite center operated by Catholic Charities. Others who have prepared travel arrangements could be released at the bus station.