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Migrants collecting food try to evade law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border By Reuters


© Reuters. A U.S. border patrol officer cuts the way of a migrant asylum seeker as he is trying to return to the United States along the Rio Grande river, after having crossed from the United States into Mexico to buy food, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, in Ciudad Acuna


By Daina Beth Solomon and Alberto Fajardo

CIUDAD ACUÑA, Mexico (Reuters) – A U.S. law enforcement officer on horseback wielded what appeared to be a lariat, whipping it close to the face of a man wading in the Rio Grande carrying a plastic bag of food.

The incident was one in many of the similar scenes that took place along Rio Grande’s banks on Sunday.

Hundreds of Haitian migrants who have been camping under a bridge in the Texas town of Del Rio were trying to bring food and other supplies from Ciudad Acuña in the Mexican state of Coahuila, while U.S. officials have stepped up security at the border and started flying migrants out of the area, some to Haiti.

The migrants claimed that their filthy encampment was not well-stocked under the bridge. Over the past few days, U.S. officials allowed migrants to cross the river at a low point. However, U.S. officials told the migrants that they wouldn’t allow them to cross into Mexico if they didn’t want to be returned to their country.

Joncito Jean (37) said, “We are trapped.” He had spent 3 days on the ground, with his wife, and their two children (ages 3, and 4). He regretted his decision.

He said, “There is no place for us to live in humane conditions… we have to get out of here to purchase water.”

In recent days more than 12,000 migrants who were mostly from Haiti have been waiting to be processed for their immigration papers under the bridge. Instead, U.S. officials began removing several thousand people from the camp over the weekend, including some who were later seen arriving in Haiti.

Reuters interviewed several people, many of them with children who said they’d take every opportunity to live in America.

Mackenley Pearre (25), fled Haiti with his wife, cousin and 2 year-old daughter in July due to worsening violence in the country and inability find electrician work. Haiti’s President was assassinated in July. In August, a devastating earthquake and severe storm struck the country.

As he ate a tamale that was given him by a Mexican citizen, he stated, “You must do something to prevent hunger.” He is one of several individuals who expressed a desire to help.

Raul Ortiz from the U.S. Border Patrol said that there were resources available during a Del Rio press conference Sunday.

Ortiz explained that the Border Patrol is providing first aid, including food, water and portable toilets.

Ortiz stated that the goal of processing the 12,662 migrants who are currently under the bridge is to complete the process in the next six to seven days. “We want to stop migrants coming in the area so we can manage those that are currently under that bridge.”

Migrants tried to avoid law enforcement by diving deeper into the water at the border. Many of these migrants, mostly men who were barefoot or wearing boxers, tried to make it through the water at waist depth. Some people crossed the border at another location where the water was almost to their necks.

Reuters reporters saw mounted police officers in cowboy hats, vests with the words “POLICE U.S. Border Patrol” and blocking migrants’ path up the U.S. embankment.

One of the officers wearing the vests pulled out a rope resembling an a whip from his neck and led the horse towards the migrants. The other fell back in the water. The officer extended his arm and pulled at the cord, making it difficult for him to stand up.

Another incident saw the officer grab the shirt of another migrant who was trying to get up the bank carrying bags of food.

While officers tried to keep migrants scattered in every direction from the bank, both men appeared to be able to get by each other. Two dozen or so people were seen later seated at the U.S. river bank’s edge, behind yellow tape and near several patrol cars.