These camp residents say they prefer to stay near the border so they feel safer and have access to legal help. Staying close to the border makes it just a little easier for attorneys to travel to their clients, though the vast majority of these people will still never likely be able to find legal representation. Most immigration attorneys, because of the dangers in Matamoros and the logistical complications of representing someone living in another country under unstable conditions, understandably refuse to accept MPP clients.
Since they will be living outdoors for weeks and months, the camp residents try to make a home of it. They make ingenious makeshift kitchens out of tree branches, dead tree trunks, clay, even steel tubs from washers and fan covers. I watched as one woman made a giant stack of thick masa tortillas from a little clay-and-log stove over wood fire. It was near dinnertime, so people were boiling chicken, frying beans, and simmering rice. The whole camp smelled like an outdoor barbecue party, but it’s still not an appropriate place for kids to live, especially when temperatures drop to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower this winter, or when rain pours and thunder cracks. For food, clothing, and other necessities such as toilet paper and diapers, these folks depend almost entirely on American volunteers and nonprofit groups.