Crossing into Mexico
What to Know
All the work of Team Brownsville is powered by volunteers and funded by individual donations of time, food, clothing, and love.
We are so grateful for the generous hearts and tireless efforts of volunteers that enrich the humanitarian response we provide every day at the Matamoros Refugee/ Asylum Camp. We would not be able to do what we do if it was not for your support.
Please be aware that Matamoros is known to have a high organized crime rate adding a risk element to our work. The safety and security of our volunteers has and continues to be a priority to all of us.
An incident was reported to have occurred near the Refugee/Asylum camp on the afternoon of Thursday, February 20,2020. Reports have concluded that the target of the incident was the Mexican Marine Barracks located near the plaza and not the camp itself.
The Instituto Nacional de Migracion (INM) has confirmed it is safe for volunteers to enter the camp to complete the daily activities as usual but to avoid government areas, the Marine Barracks and other areas of public interest.
In light of this event is important to recall the safety requirements we ask all our volunteers to follow.
Never enter the camp alone, be with at least one companion at all times.
Communicate with your group, make sure they know where you are at all times.
Always be aware of your surroundings and be cautious of any suspicious activity.
Students must have permission from their parents or legal guardian.
If at anytime you feel unsafe please feel free to cross back to the US immediately.
Asylum seekers travel across South America, Central America and Mexico to Brownsville, Texas, to apply for asylum in the United States. Once asylum seekers notify the US government that they would like asylum, the US sends them back across the Gateway International Bridge to wait in Matamoros, Mexico for their asylum hearings, which can be months in the future. The asylum seekers have set up a camp in the Matamoros Bridge Plaza, which is immediately across the bridge.
Team Brownsville has been providing basic needs for the asylum seekers, including food, water, showers, clothing, supplies, medical care, and legal help for immigration. Team Brownville has been able to provide these needs due to monetary donations and from volunteers who travel from Brownsville to Matamoros to deliver food, goods and services. We are grateful to our supporters, who are from Brownsville and the surrounding areas, and also from all over the world.
Here is a map of the area of Brownsville and Matamoros where Team Brownsville Volunteers meet and then walk to help the asylum seekers.
Volunteers meet Team Brownsville Team Leaders at specified times at the parking lot of the La Plaza Bus Station in Brownsville. This parking lot is located across the street from the corner of E Jefferson Street and E 15th Street.
The Team Brownsville Leader and the volunteers then walk about 10 minutes from the bus station, across the Gateway International Bridge to the Matamoros Bridge Plaza.
Times to meet
Here are the times to gather at the bus station for the different Team Brownsville programs that go into Matamoros:
Dinners Friday through Tuesday. Meet at 5:00pm, cross at 5:30. Return by 7:00-7:30
Escuelita de la Banqueta on Sunday. Meet at 8:00, cross at 8:30. Class is from 9:00-10:00.
There are coin-operated turnstiles on the Gateway International Bridge pedestrians must use going into Mexico and returning to the US. It makes life a little easier if you have exact change, but they do have a person who will make change for you. The cost is:
$1.00 to go to the Mexican side
$0.30 to come back into the US
Make sure that everyone in your group has their passport when you go to the Mexican side!!
There is a serious risk from crime in Matamoros because of cartel activity. Please read the US Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council’s page
The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory assesses Mexico at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution due to crime. Primarily because of drug cartel activity, you must follow certain guidelines:
Do not go to Matamoros unless you are with a Team Brownsville Team Leader
Stay with your Team Brownsville Leader
Do not leave the Plaza and Levee areas