Del Rio, Texas, has declared a state of emergency as thousands of mostly Haitian migrants camp underneath the city’s International Bridge. Throughout the previous week, roughly 15,000 migrants arrived at the border of Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, and Del Rio, waiting to seek asylum in the United States. Hundreds have attempted to wade through the Rio Grande River before settling in a makeshift camp under the bridge. This situation has shut down traffic into the city from Mexico.
Although most of the migrants came from Haiti, some also came from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. They’re waiting for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to process their petitions to stay in the United States. The conditions of the waiting families are being labeled a humanitarian crisis.
Del Rio’s Mayor, Bruno Lozano, stated the following:
“They’re angry. There’s people having babies down there. There’s people collapsing out of the heat. If you guys were down there, they peek up, and they just – you can feel the desperation, the destitute of these individuals. They’ve been in the heat day after day after day. It’s something that – it’s very challenging to describe in words, but it’s extremely chaotic.”
Alexandra Ulmer, a National Affairs Correspondent for Reuters, advised that some migrants are crossing back into Mexico to stock up on food because they’re not receiving it or can get it on the American side. She also stated that there are several reasons as to why migrants are seeking refuge and that there’s a well-organized route to how they’re arriving in the country.
According to NPR, Ulmer gives the following recount of an interview she had with a migrant:
“So I would say probably a majority of Haitians who I’ve spoken to – and I’ve interviewed maybe 20 or more – have said they initially were living in Brazil or Chile, and there’s a mix of reasons for them to come now. So first of all, a lot of them were really struggling to eke out a living in these home host countries. One Haitian I spoke to had been living in Porto Alegre in Brazil and said he was earning $10 a day as a construction worker.”
“Which was completely insufficient for him, his wife and his kid. He saw a video talking about asylum-seekers in the U.S. and got inspired and had always wanted to come to the United States and decided to take the leap. And then more specifically about why they’re coming to Del Rio, several Haitian migrants who I’ve spoken to have shown me instructions that they’re receiving through WhatsApp from other Haitians. So in some instances, it’s just a list of 15 cities in Mexico that will – basically, if they follow through on bus or by foot, will reach Del Rio. And other times, I’ve seen very specific instructions in Creole that basically say, get on the second bus at the third terminal, you know, wait half-an-hour, make sure you go to this ticket booth, et cetera, and you will arrive. And this is a way to evade Mexican authorities. So there’s actually a very well-organized grassroots organization among the Haitian migrants which makes them arrive here.”
The Biden administration, however, is accelerating deportation flights by sending 400 federal agents to Del Rio to control the influx of migrants. According to the Texas Tribune, CBP temporarily shut its ports of entry on Friday (9/17/21) and re-routed international traffic 57 miles east of Eagle Pass, a nearby city. CBP also coordinated with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard to move migrants to other processing locations outside of Del Rio. But since the number of migrants continued to grow, the Department of Homeland Security is expediting deportation flights to Haiti and other countries.
U.S. Rep Tony Gonzales praised President Biden’s administration for processing 2,000 migrants in 24 hours and speeding up expulsion flights; 10 flights from Del Rio are planned for the week. And he urged the White House to re-implement Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy that forces migrants to stay in Mexico while they pursue asylum cases in the United States.
“The sooner the administration can reinstall the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, that will help alleviate some of that stress in Del Rio, and I think the administration is going to have no choice.”
Since Haiti is still dealing with the effects of the earthquake and Presidential assassination, Haitian officials are asking the United States for a humanitarian moratorium. They’ve advised that they aren’t prepared to handle thousands of homeless deportees returning to the country. Three flights flew in over the weekend, and six flights per day are expected for the next three weeks.
Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, the Head of Haiti’s National Migration Office, stated the following:
“We are here to say welcome, they can come back and stay in Haiti — but they are very agitated. They don’t accept the forced return.”
“The Haitian state is not really able to receive these deportees.”
Until Next Time…
Photo Credit: Al Jazeera
Fadel, L., Zamora, K., & Brown, A. (2021, September 17). Thousands of Migrants, Mostly From Haiti, Are Packed Under Texas Bridge. NPR. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.npr.org/2021/09/17/1038395170/thousands-of-migrants-mostly-from-haiti-are-packed-under-texas-bridge.
Isaac, H., & Porter, C. (2021, September 19). Haiti Protests Mass U.S. Deportation of Migrants to Country in Crisis. The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/19/world/americas/us-haitian-deportation.html.
Kriel, L., & Garcia, U. J. (2021, September 18). Biden administration speeds up deportation flights for Haitians in growing Texas migrant camp. Texas Tribune. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.texastribune.org/2021/09/18/texas-immigration-border-deportations/.