By Daina Beth Solomon
CIUDAD ACUNA, Mexico (Reuters) – Conditions deteriorated in migrant camps on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday where thousands of mostly Haitian migrants have gathered, as pressure mounted on U.S. President Joe Biden to curb expulsion flights.
Reuters photos showed children and babies, including one toddler with an untreated stomach ulcer, living in makeshift shelters constructed from reeds along the Rio Grande River, Del Rio, Texas.
While clothes were dried, trash was left on the ground and parents used river water to clean their children. According to migrants, food was scarce and portable toilets were in short supply.
Mexico and America were preparing Wednesday to flee more Haitian migrants out of the camp.
The maximum number of people camping under Del Rio’s international bridge was 14,000. However, the United States has deported over 500 Haitians and moved thousands to immigration processing since Sunday. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, deportations flights to Haiti will continue.
According to media reports, some Haitians were allowed into the United States to continue their immigration cases. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and DHS didn’t respond to requests for comment about the releases and they did not provide any details on how decisions were made as to who would go expelled and those who would be allowed back in.
The Rio Grande was crossed by a small number of men on Wednesday morning to cross into Mexico in search for food. A line of U.S. Border Patrol cars remained at the river’s upper banks.
Due to food shortages and the poor living conditions in the U.S., some have chosen to remain on the Mexico-side, at Ciudad Acuna. Around 200 people had already set up tents, tarps and shelters by Wednesday.
A family built a shelter from cardboard boxes. There was a long line of people waiting outside Doctors Without Borders trucks to receive medical consultations. One lady worried about her son, 7 years old with a severe cough.
Biden has been criticized by both U.S. politicians and members of Congress for his handling of this situation.
The incident occurred over the weekend when U.S. border agent mounted used whips as whips to intimidate people trying to cross the river. Authorities ordered an investigation. Wide condemnation was prompted by video and photographs of horses-drawn agents. Alejandro Mayorkas DHS Secretary stated that agents were being removed from front-line duty.
There have been a number of criticisms about the Haiti expulsion flight. In the Caribbean, which is among the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and has seen a lot of instability, gang violence, rising violence, and an earthquake in recent weeks, chaos reigns.
Filippo Grandi is the U.N’s refugee coordinator. He warned that expulsions in such an unstable situation could be illegal under international law.
Most of the Haitians have not arrived direct from Haiti. Many of them had tried before to move to South America but were unsuccessful due the pandemic restrictions, economic downturn and difficulty finding employment.
Some are now reconsidering.
Maurival Makenson (Haitian migrant) was 31 when he claimed that his younger sister, a Haitian immigrant, was on her way from Colombia to Ciudad Acuna. He tried to convince her to go back.
He stated, “I tell him it’s hard to get papers. There are deportations.”
Some of the deported Haitian migrants on Tuesday reacted https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/us-says-4000-haitian-migrants-moved-border-four-more-flights-come-mayorkas-2021-09-21 angrily as they stepped off flights in Port-au-Prince after spending thousands of dollars on arduous voyages.
Mexico stated that repatriation flights would now be made available for those who “wish to return home to their country” after negotiations with Haitian representatives.
Mexico began flying immigrants from the U.S. to Mexico’s southern border and also transporting some of them by bus. According to a Mexican official, the Mexican flight to the South has sent 130 migrants to Villahermosa in southern Mexico and 130 to Tapachula at the Guatemala border.
Two budget hotels were entered by officers of Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) on Tuesday night. They then escorted around two dozen migrants and toddlers onto vans.
A woman speaking behind a partition told Reuters that she didn’t know the destination of these migrants.