The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Saturday announced a plan to step up deportation flights from Del Rio, Texas to Haiti following reports that thousands of migrants gathered under a bridge in the small border town.
The federal ministry said it was preparing additional transport to pick up the pace and increase the capacity of return flights to Haiti and other destinations in the coming days.
The Biden administration reiterated that our borders are not open and people should not make the dangerous journey. Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including deportation. Irregular migration constitutes a significant threat to the health and well-being of border communities and to the lives of migrants themselves, and should not be attempted, “DHS said in a statement on Saturday.
As of Saturday, there were 14,353 migrants – mostly from Haiti – under the Del Rio international bridge awaiting treatment by immigration authorities, CNN reported. Migrants crossed the Rio Grande in huge groups, and many assembled cave-like shelters along the banks of the river. Some families have been there for six days and live in temporary camps in cramped and unsanitary conditions.
Haitians have been migrating to the United States in large numbers from South America for several years, but the latest wave comes after Haiti was plunged into further political and environmental turmoil this summer. A month after the assassination of the Haitian Prime Minister in July, the country was rocked by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed nearly 2,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
It is not known how the thousands of migrants gathered so quickly in Del Rio, although authorities said many Haitians were camping along the US-Mexico border before the wave. On Saturday, DHS outlined additional measures to deal with the influx of migration, which includes sending 400 border patrol officers to the region in the next 24 to 48 hours.
DHS said the border patrol is also coordinating with immigration and US customs and coast guard to move migrants from Del Rio to other processing locations, including around 2,000 on Friday. The department also said it was taking “urgent humanitarian actions” to reduce overcrowding and improve conditions for migrants while awaiting treatment.
“The majority of migrants continue to be deported under the CDC’s Title 42 authority. Those who cannot be deported under Title 42 and do not have a legal basis to stay will be placed in a process of deportation. ‘expedited deportation,’ the department said in a statement.
DHS said it would conduct withdrawal flights to Haiti, Mexico, Ecuador and the Northern Triangle countries.
The number of Haitians arriving at the southern border has increased dramatically over the past year. In August, US Customs and Border Protection met 7,580 Haitians, a figure that has increased every month since August 2020, when they arrested just 55.