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© Reuters. The Rio Grande River is used by migrants seeking asylum to enter the United States. It’s located near Ciudad Acuna (Mexico), September 18-2021. REUTERS/Go Nakamura

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By Alexandra Ulmer and Kristina Cooke

CIUDAD ACUÑA, Mexico (Reuters) – U.S. authorities moved some 2,000 people to other immigration processing stations on Friday from a Texas border town that has seen an influx of Haitian and other migrants, the Department of Homeland Security said on Saturday.

DHS stated that such transfers would continue to “ensure that irregular migrants [are] swiftly taken into custody and processed and removed from America consistent with our laws, policies, and other requirements.”

Although some migrants seeking safety and jobs have made their way to America for several weeks, others are only now making it into Texas. This has caused a lot of attention and poses a political and humanitarian problem for the Biden administration.

DHS said that in response to the more than 10,000 migrants sheltering under the Del Rio International Bridge that connects the city with Ciudad Acuña in Mexico, it was accelerating flights to Haiti and other destinations within the next 72 hours.

DHS stated that it is working with countries where migrants started their journeys, including many from Haiti and other countries like Brazil and Chile to receive returned migrants.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will send 400 agents to Del Rio to assist with the return of migrants. The agency had previously said on Friday that it was closing down the city’s entry port and redirecting traffic to Eagle Pass, which is 57 miles (92km) to its east.

A spokesperson for DHS told Reuters that the agency has reiterated its position that borders were not closed and that people shouldn’t make dangerous trips.

(GRAPHIC: Border Apprehensions: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-IMMIGRATION/BORDER/xklpyoalapg)

Lafortune Similen, a 40-year-old Haitian, reached the border with his wife and two-year-old daughter after a six-week trip through Mexico. Marisose Mollestine (38), who claimed they had fled Chile over racism and their poor prospects for work, stated that they didn’t know what was going to happen after reaching the Rio Grande.

They were sending people home, that I heard, and then Similen posted it on Facebook. This was before his family plunged into the river.

Wilson, a forty-year-old Haitian, who only gave one name, claimed he saw a Facebook message that said people would be allowed to enter the United States.

Wilson and his wife, along with their daughter, reached the American border Saturday morning. His claim was that he worked in Chile construction.

As it became clear U.S. authorities were sending migrants back to homelands beyond Mexico, Mexican police officers began asking migrants who were buying food in Ciudad Acuña to return to the United States side of the river on Saturday morning, witnesses told Reuters. They claimed they were in desperate need of supplies. Police finally gave up.

FAST EXPULSIONS

On the Texas side, Haitians have been joined by Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans sheltering in squalid conditions under the Del Rio bridge.

Both sides of the U.S. border with Mexico said that the majority of migrants arrived from Haiti.

Most migrants that arrive at border crossings and surrender to authorities can seek asylum. If they feel threatened with being deported to their country of origin, this will trigger a lengthy legal process. Trump’s administration implemented a number of policies that weakened those protections and argued many asylum claims to be false.

Title 42 was a comprehensive U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Order. This order allowed most migrants to be swiftly expelled and not have the chance to claim asylum. Biden kept the rule in effect, though he did not exempt unaccompanied minors from it and has not yet been forced to evacuate most families.

On Thursday, a judge declared that the policy cannot be applied to families. The ruling will not take effect for 2 weeks. Biden administration appeals the decision.

Advocates for immigration say that mass expulsions of Haitians in Del Rio will anger them. This is due to the fact that Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. On July 15, the President was assassinated. A major earthquake hit Haiti in August and a powerful storm ravaged the country.

In August, the Biden administration granted deportation relief for approximately 150,000 Haitians living in the United States under Temporary Protected status. New arrivals are not eligible for this program. Although deportation is slower than expulsion, it’s technically different from expulsion.

Following the earthquake of August 14, U.S. officials stopped temporarily all immigration to Haiti.

According to CBP data, the number of Haitian migrants crossing into America from Mexico has increased steadily this year.

Many Haitians who were interviewed by Reuters claimed that they had lived in South America before moving north because of difficulties securing decent jobs or obtaining legal status.

Several told Reuters they followed routes shared https://www.reuters.com/world/whatsapp-instructions-mexican-struggles-how-haitians-ended-up-texas-camp-2021-09-17 on WhatsApp to reach Del Rio.

Tapachula is a region in Mexico that has over a dozen Haitians. It’s near Guatemala’s border.



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