Stamford Advocate

Officials: All migrants are gone from Texas border camp


DEL RIO, Texas — No migrants remained Friday at the Texas border encampment where almost 15,000 people — most of them Haitians — had converged just days earlier seeking asylum, local and federal officials said.

It’s a dramatic change from last Saturday, when the number peaked as migrants driven by confusion over the Biden administra­tion’s policies and misinforma­tion on social media converged at the border crossing connecting Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuna, Mexico.

At a news conference, Del Rio Mayor Buno Lozano called it “phenomenal news.”

Many face expulsion because they are not covered by protection­s recently extended by the Biden administra­tion to the more than 100,000 Haitian migrants already in the U.S., citing security concerns and social unrest in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. The devastatin­g 2020 earthquake forced many of them from their homeland.

The United States and Mexico appeared eager to end the increasing­ly politicize­d humanitari­an situation that prompted the resignatio­n of the U.S. special envoy to Haiti and widespread outrage after images emerged of border agents maneuverin­g their horses to forcibly block and move migrants.

On Friday, President Joe Biden said the way the agents used their horses was “horrible” and that “people will pay” as a result. The agents have been assigned to administra­tive duties while the administra­tion investigat­es.

“There will be consequenc­es,” Biden told reporters. “It’s an embarrassm­ent, but it’s beyond an embarrassm­ent — it’s dangerous, it’s wrong, it sends the wrong message around the world and sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are.”

Meanwhile, Homeland Security officials said about 2,000 Haitians have been rapidly expelled on 17 flights since Sunday and more could be expelled in coming days under pandemic powers that deny people the chance to seek asylum.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that the U.S. has allowed about 12,400 to enter the country, at least temporaril­y, while they make claims before an immigratio­n

judge to stay in the country under the asylum laws or for some other legal reason. They could ultimately be denied and would be subject to removal.

Mayorkas said nearly 30,000 migrants have been encountere­d by the Border Patrol in the Del Rio sector since Sept. 9, with the maximum at one time reaching 15,000. He said about 8,000 migrants “have decided to return to Mexico voluntaril­y,” and about 5,000 are in DHS custody and being processed to determine whether they will be expelled or allowed to press their claim for legal residency.

A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the situation said seven flights were scheduled to Haiti on Friday, six on Saturday and seven on Sunday. The official was not authorized to speak publicly.

In Mexico, just over 100 migrants, most of them single men, remained Friday morning in the riverside camp in Ciudad Acuna.

Dozens of families who had been there crossed back to Del Rio overnight after Mexican authoritie­s left the area. With the river running higher, some Border Patrol agents helped families who were struggling to cross with children.

Some migrants also moved to small hotels or private homes in Ciudad Acuna. Authoritie­s detained six migrants at one on Thursday afternoon.

Luxon, a 31-year-old Haitian migrant who withheld his last

name out of fear, said he was leaving with his wife and son for Mexicali, about 900 miles west along Mexico’s border with California.

“The option was to go to a place where there aren’t a lot of people and there request documents to be legal in Mexico,” he said.

Asked about the situation in Ciudad Acuna on Friday, Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, “we don’t want Mexico to be a migrant camp, we want the problem to be addressed fully.”

At the Val Verde Border Humanitari­an Coalition in Del Rio, migrants stepped off a white Border Patrol van on Friday, many smiling and looking relieved to have been released into the U.S. Some carried sleeping babies. A toddler walked behind her mother wrapped in a silver heat blanket.

Some Haitians are being allowed to remain in the U.S. at least temporaril­y to seek asylum or to stay under some other claim to residency, with notices to appear later before immigratio­n authoritie­s. DHS officials declined to specify the number but said they are people with particular “vulnerabil­ities,” meaning they are pregnant, have young children or the U.S. doesn’t have the capacity to hold them in detention, especially during the pandemic.

The government has no plans to stop expelling others on public health grounds despite pressure from Democratic lawmakers, who say migrants are being sent back to a troubled country that some left more than a decade ago.

Officials said the U.S. State Department is in talks with Brazil and Chile to allow some Haitians who previously resided there to return, but it’s complicate­d because some of them no longer have legal status there.

The Biden administra­tion’s special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, submitted a letter of resignatio­n on Thursday protesting the “inhumane” largescale expulsions of Haitian migrants.

Foote, who was appointed in July, wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, saying he was stepping down immediatel­y “with deep disappoint­ment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes.”

“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterpro­ductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs to daily life,” he wrote. “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommenda­tions have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”

 ?? Julio Cortez / Associated Press ?? Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles are lined up on the Texas side of the Rio Grande near an area used by migrants, many from Haiti, as an encampment along the Del Rio Internatio­nal Bridge on Friday in Del Rio, Texas.
Julio Cortez / Associated Press Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles are lined up on the Texas side of the Rio Grande near an area used by migrants, many from Haiti, as an encampment along the Del Rio Internatio­nal Bridge on Friday in Del Rio, Texas.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States