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U.S. authorities accelerate removal of Haitians at border with Mexico


Migrants stand by the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S., in Del Rio, Texas, U.S., September 16, 2021, in this picture obtained from social media.

Office of U.S. Congressman Tony Gonzales via Reuters

U.S. authorities moved some 2,000 people to other immigration processing stations on Friday from a Texas border town that has been overwhelmed by 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.”

Some migrants are seeking safety and work have been traveling to the United States for many weeks and months. However, this has only recently attracted widespread attention. It is both a political and humanitarian problem for the Biden administration.

DHS announced that due to the increasing number of migrants living under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas, DHS was speeding up flights to Haiti and other destinations in the next 72 hours.

DHS said it would work with the countries from which the migrants arrived – many in Haiti, Brazil and Chile – to receive the returned migrants. Both sides confirmed that most migrants crossing the border were Haitians.

Ariel Henry (Haiti’s Prime Minister) expressed solidarity to migrants at border. A series of social media posts were posted late on Saturday. Henry said “arrangements have been made” for Caribbean nations to receive them.

He wrote, “I feel their pain and wish them well.”

DHS reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection would send 400 additional agents into the Del Rio sector over the following days. The announcement came after DHS claimed on Friday that it had closed Del Rio’s port of entry temporarily and was rerouting traffic to Eagle Pass, which is 57 miles (92km east).

A spokesperson for DHS told Reuters that “we have repeated that our borders were not open” and advised people not to make dangerous travels.

Bruno Lozano (the mayor of Del Rio) stated in video that just 14,000 migrants were currently under the bridge.

According to Reuters witnesses it was clear that U.S. authorities had begun sending migrants home to their homes. On Saturday, Mexican police asked migrants purchasing food in Ciudad Acuna, to come back to the American side. They claimed they were in desperate need of supplies. Police finally gave up.

Poor conditions

Some thousands of migrants take shelter as they await to be processed near the Del Rio International Bridge after crossing the Rio Grande river into the U.S. from Ciudad Acuna in Del Rio, Texas, U.S. September 18, 2021. Photo taken using a drone.

The Texas side has Haitians joined by Venezuelans, Cubans, and Nicaraguans. They are crossing the Del Rio Bridge, which migrants claim is deteriorating conditions.

Michael Vargas (Venezuelan migrant) said, “There are urine, feces, and we’re sleeping right next to garbage.” He was there with his family for three days.

Vargas claimed they received ticket number 16,000, and that authorities are still processing number 9.800. According to Vargas, people are being divided into three categories: single men and single women as well as families.

Jeff Jeune, 27, a Haitian national, said that it took more time to process families than single individuals. Young children are left sleeping on their backs in the blazing heat of 99°F (37°C). Jeune claimed that his sons aged 1 and 10 had been afflicted by cold-like symptoms and fever.

Two photos taken by a migrant from the camp show dozens of children and adults crowded under the bridge. Some are seated on thin blankets or cardboard, while others lie on top of the dirt. It was easy to stack belongings in neat heaps. The background appears to have tents of wood sticks and reeds.

If they are afraid of being returned home, asylum can be claimed by migrants who cross the border. This usually triggers a lengthy court procedure. Trump Administration slashed protections by arguing that some asylum claims were invalid.

Title 42 is a broad U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health order, which was issued by the Trump administration shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. It allows many migrants to be expelled quickly without the possibility of claiming asylum. While President Joe Biden maintained that rule, he allowed unaccompanied minors to be exempted and his administration did not expell most families.

The policy was not applicable to families as a result of a judge’s ruling on Thursday. However, the decision does not take effect until two weeks after which the Biden administration will appeal the decision.

Immigration advocates will be furious at the mass expulsion of Haitians from Del Rio. They claim such returns would not be humane given the country’s poor living conditions. Haiti’s president, John Paul II, was assassinated on July 31st. A major earthquake and powerful hurricane hit Haiti in August.

An initial deportation order was granted by the Biden administration to approximately 150,000 Haitians living in the United States. New arrivals are not eligible for this relief. Technically, deportation and expulsio differ. Expulsion is faster.

After the August 14th earthquake, U.S. officials temporarily stopped removals from Haiti.

CBP data shows that the U.S. has seen an increase in immigrants from Haiti to its border with Mexico this year.

Many Haitians interviewed for Reuters stated that they used live in South America but were now headed north due to the lack of legal status or difficulty finding decent work. Several told Reuters they followed routes shared on WhatsApp to reach Del Rio.

Tapachula is a region in southern Mexico where more than a dozen Haitians live. It’s near the Guatemala border.