A large group of Venezuelans expelled from the United States and sent to Mexico under a new Homeland Security policy protested at the border Friday, causing officials to briefly close an international bridge leading to Texas.
The protesters gathered in Matamoros, Mexico, which sits across from Brownsville, Texas. Video footage posted on social media shows a group of people gathered on the bridge appearing to talk among themselves.
A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Fox News that officers halted traffic and “and continues to implement appropriate port hardening measures, such as placement of K-rails and conducting periodic mobile field force exercises to ensure the safe and secure processing of travelers at our international bridges.”
The bridge was opened a short time later after the demonstration ended.
Immigration activists have voiced concerns about the Biden administration’s announcement that it will expel Venezuelans to Mexico using the Title 42 public health order.
The new policy expands Title 42, a Trump-era public health order implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will return Venezuelans entering the U.S. illegally to Mexico.
The order comes as the U.S. launches a border enforcement operation with Mexico that includes increased checkpoints, a surge in resources and a crackdown on human smuggling.
“These actions make clear that there is a lawful and orderly way for Venezuelans to enter the United States, and lawful entry is the only way,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Those who attempt to cross the southern border of the United States illegally will be returned to Mexico and will be ineligible for this process in the future. Those who follow the lawful process will have the opportunity to travel safely to the United States and become eligible to work here.”
Migrants from Venezuela have begun making their way to the southern border in larger numbers in recent months.
There were more than 25,000 encounters of Venezuelan migrants in August, up from just 4,000 in April. Last August, there were just over 6,000 migrant encounters from Venezuela. Border agents have seen more than 2.1 million encounters this fiscal year.
Many immigration advocates have claimed Title 42 is cruel and sends people back to Mexico where they face poverty and safety concerns.
“By bending to the callous whims of Republican governors in Texas, Arizona and Florida as this country gears up for midterm elections, the Biden Administration has taken multiple steps backwards in time to the cruel immigration policies of Donald Trump,” Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said in a statement, Fox News previously reported.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.