The United States intensifies its effort to deport Haitian migrants collected in Texas.
The United States intends to accelerate its attempts to deport Haitian migrants on aircraft to their Caribbean nation, authorities said Saturday as agents flooded into a Texas border community where thousands of Haitians had gathered after unexpectedly crossing the border from Mexico.
The Department of Homeland Security stated in a statement that it relocated around 2,000 migrants who had collected under and near a bridge in the border city of Del Rio on Friday to other areas for processing and possible deportation from the United States. Additionally, it stated that it will have 400 agents and officers in the area by Monday am and would dispatch additional personnel if necessary.
The announcement comes in response to the rapid arrival of Haitians in Del Rio, a city of around 35,000 people located approximately 145 miles west of San Antonio on a very remote stretch of border with little capability to retain and process such huge numbers of individuals.
According to a US official quoted by The Associated Press on Friday, the number of flights will be determined by operational capabilities and Haiti's readiness to accept them. The official stated that conversations with Haitian officials were progressing.
The person stated that the US will likely fly five to eight planes per day beginning Sunday, while another official stated that the US will likely fly no more than two per day and that all migrants will be checked for COVID-19. Both individuals were not allowed to speak publicly about the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
US Customs and Border Protection blocked the only border crossing between Del Rio and Ciudad Acua, Mexico, to vehicles and people in both directions on Friday, citing "urgent safety and security needs." Travelers were directed indefinitely to the Eagle Pass crossing, 57 miles distant.
Although crowd estimates differed, Val Verde County Sheriff Frank Joe Martinez stated Friday that approximately 13,700 new residents had arrived in Del Rio. Migrants pitched tents and constructed temporary shelters out of carrizo cane, a large reed. Numerous people bathed and washed their garments in the river.
While the flight plan has the potential to be huge in scope, it is contingent on Haitians' response. They may have to choose between remaining in the United States and risking deportation to a poor homeland plagued by poverty and political instability, or returning to Mexico. Unaccompanied minors are immune from expedited deportation.
According to DHS, "our borders are closed, and individuals should avoid making the perilous voyage."
Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, which may include expulsion, according to the agency. “Irregular migration poses a substantial threat to the health and welfare of border communities, as well as to the lives of migrants, and should be avoided at all costs.”
Stephen Miller, the primary architect of former President Donald Trump's harsh policies and a frequent critic of the Biden administration, voiced concern that Haiti's government would agree to a large-scale operation's flight count. He recalled daily phone talks with US State Department officials last year regarding Haiti's opposition to flights, with Haiti only relenting under fear of sanctions.
Mexican immigration authorities ordered approximately 500 Haitians off buses in the state of Tamaulipas, some 120 miles south of the Texas border, the state administration said in a news release Friday. They continued on foot toward the border.
For several years, Haitians have been traveling in huge numbers from South America to the United States, many fleeing their Caribbean homeland following a devastating earthquake in 2010. After jobs dried up following the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many attempted the perilous voyage to the US border via foot, bus, and car, even across Panama's infamous Darien Gap.