MATAMOROS, Mexico – Enda Marisol Rivera and Vilma Consuelo Vasquez were sitting at a rickety wooden table under ragged tarps, peeling the bananas they ate for breakfast and talking about the nerves they woke up with this morning.
The two women have lived for months in a squalid tent camp filled with people hoping to gain asylum status in the United States.
“In the name of God, we hope Biden wins,” said Ms. Rivera, who has been at the camp for seven months. “It’s not safe here.”
The camp is testimony to the fact that President Trump has closed America’s door to large swathes of potential migrants. Residents of the camp are among the many foreign nationals who watch the election results with high stakes.
In the absence of television, people in the camp walked around with cell phones for information. Some had radios.
A few tents away, Luis Ramos, 26, from Honduras, sat on a pitcher of water outside his tent, wearing shorts and a black t-shirt that said, “Do everything with love.” . His black socks were getting covered in dirt as he nervously bounced on his legs.
“We’re all watching to see what’s going on,” he said, his eyes red with tears. “Today is the day that will define who will stay and who will go. Trump’s policies put us here. They were bad for us in every way.
Mr Ramos said he had struggled to sleep the night before on the rigid camp bed inside his tent, thinking of the US election. He said he planned to spend the day in one of his neighbors’ tents, where they could cram around the cellphones of people who had enough money to pay for a day of internet service, in order to monitor election results.
“Today is our only hope,” he said.
People at the camp were planning to gather around 7 p.m. to watch the late-night results arrive. Some called the event a feast, others a vigil. Many were in contact with relatives in the United States.
“We are a village here,” said Sandra Andrade, 43, from El Salvador.
Maria Guardado, 43, from Progreso, Honduras, said she was cautiously optimistic that Joseph R. Biden Jr. would be able to help her leave the camp – if he won the race to the presidency. She put her hand in a makeshift stove that she used to make rice for breakfast, mixing scraps of wood to fan the flame. Her 15-year-old son was still sleeping in their tent. She said the two of them would keep their eyes on their phones all day, hoping to hear of a Biden victory.
She felt good that Mr Biden’s wife had visited the camp last year, with many Latinos as part of her delegation. But she added that she was also realistic. “Politicians are politicians,” she said.