But they were turned away, because they're not legally married. In order to stay together at the shelter, the couple needed some paperwork. On top of that, it was Sunday — and they couldn't get the paperwork they needed until Monday.
"We basically felt lost, without money and in the streets," Villegas said in Spanish.
Like many of the Venezuelan migrants crossing the southern border right now, Villegas and Pineda didn't have any money, or any family or friends anywhere in the U.S. they could call for help.
The Biden administration has announced an agreement with Mexico aimed at reducing the record number of Venezuelan migrants crossing the border illegally. That deal includes a new legal pathway for up to 24,000 Venezuelans — if they can find a financial sponsor in the U.S.
But immigration experts say that won't be easy for many Venezuelans.
"They're starting over in very precarious circumstances," said Andrew Selee, the president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., "because they don't have the social networks in the United States that other migrants generally do."
Photographed for NPR, with words and reporting by Marisa Peñaloza and Joel Rose.The U.S. creates a legal pathway for Venezuelan migrants, but many won't qualify
The Biden administration has announced a new legal pathway to discourage Venezuelan migrants from crossing the border illegally. But many may not qualify because they lack financial sponsors.