Texas border crossing where migrants built a camp to reopen

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) – The Texas border post where thousands of Haitian migrants have converged in recent weeks will partially reopen Saturday afternoon, US Customs and Border Protection said.

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) – The Texas border post where thousands of Haitian migrants have converged in recent weeks will partially reopen Saturday afternoon, US Customs and Border Protection said.

The agency issued a statement saying that business and travel operations will resume at the Del Rio port of entry for passenger traffic at 4 p.m. Saturday. It will be reopened to freight traffic on Monday morning.

CBP temporarily closed the border crossing on September 17 and redirected traffic to Eagle Pass, Texas, about 50 miles to the southeast, after 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, suddenly crossed Mexico at Del Rio and camped on the US side of the border bridge. The camp was completely emptied on Friday.

Many migrants sought asylum in the United States

THIS IS A CURRENT UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) – No migrants left in a Texas border settlement, about a week after nearly 15,000 people – mostly Haitians – crowded into makeshift shelters in hope to seek asylum.

Some will have this chance, while others will be expelled to their homeland. The Department of Homeland Security planned to continue flights to Haiti throughout the weekend, ignoring criticism from Democratic lawmakers and human rights groups who say Haitian migrants are being returned to a troubled country some left over ten years ago.

Meanwhile, Bruno Lozano, the mayor of Del Rio, Texas, where the camp is located, said officials would dig through brush along the Rio Grande to make sure no one was in hiding and finish cleaning up the site. before reopening the international bridge. He said it would happen Sunday night at the earliest.

Officials also want to make sure that no other large group of migrants are heading into the Del Rio area that may decide to set up a similar camp, he said.

Lozano said there were no deaths during the time the camp was occupied and 10 babies were born to migrant mothers, either at the camp or at the Del Rio hospital.

“It took an urban village on this scale to help prevent any loss of life and truly welcome childbirth here,” said Lozano, who called the relocation of all migrants “phenomenal”.

The number of migrants peaked last Saturday as migrants are motivated by confusion over the policies of the Biden administration and disinformation on social media converged at the border crossing between Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.

The United States and Mexico have worked swiftly, appearing eager to end the humanitarian situation that resulted in the resignation of the US special envoy to Haiti and widespread outrage after images of border officials maneuvering their horses appeared block and forcibly displace migrants.

President Joe Biden said on Friday that the way officers were using their horses was “horrible” and “people would pay” accordingly. Officers have been assigned administrative duties while the administration investigates.

“There will be consequences,” Biden told reporters. “It’s an annoyance, but it’s beyond an annoyance – it’s dangerous, it’s wrong, it sends the wrong message to the world and sends the wrong message to the home. It’s just not who we are.

Later, Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spoke cautiously about the ongoing investigation. Asked about the gap, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “isn’t prejudging a result” or interfering with the investigation, but “speaks from the heart” .

Many migrants risk deportation because they are not covered by protections recently extended by the Biden administration to the more than 100,000 Haitian migrants already in the United States, citing security concerns and social unrest in the country most. poor in the western hemisphere. A devastating earthquake in 2010 forced many people to leave their homelands.

Mayorkas said around 2,000 Haitians had been swiftly deported on 17 flights since Sunday and that more could be deported in the coming days under pandemic powers that deny people the ability to seek asylum.

The Trump administration adopted the policy, called Title 42, in March 2020 to justify restrictive immigration policies in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Biden administration used it to justify the expulsion of Haitian migrants.

Late last week, a federal judge ruled the rule inappropriate and gave the government two weeks to arrest it, but the Biden administration appealed.

Officials said the US 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 status there. legal.

The Mexican office of the United Nations International Organization for Migration released a statement Friday evening saying it was looking for countries where some Haitians have their residence or where their children have citizenship as an alternative to being deported to Haiti.

“If the migrants are willing to return and if the states concerned agree, IOM is ready to offer its expertise through its Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) program to help these migrants return in a safe way. safe and informed, ”the statement read.

Mayorkas said the United States has allowed about 12,400 migrants to enter the country, at least temporarily, while it asks an immigration judge to stay in the country under asylum laws or for any other legal reason. They could ultimately be refused and would be subject to referral.

Mayorkas said around 5,000 people are being held by DHS and are being processed to determine whether they will be deported or allowed to assert their legal residency claim. Some have returned to Mexico.

A US official with direct knowledge of the situation said six flights were scheduled to Haiti on Friday, with seven scheduled for Saturday and six for Sunday, although that is subject to change. The official was not allowed to speak publicly.

In Mexico, around 50 migrants, mostly single men, stayed in the riverside camp in Ciudad Acuña on Friday evening. Dozens of families returned to Del Rio overnight after Mexican authorities left the area. Others have moved to small hotels or private homes in Ciudad Acuña.

Luxon, a 31-year-old Haitian migrant who hid his last name out of fear, said he was leaving with his wife and son for Mexicali, about 1,450 kilometers west along the Mexican border. and California.

“The option was to go to a place where there are not a lot of people and ask for documents to be legal in Mexico,” he said.

At the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition in Del Rio on Friday, migrants disembarked from a white border patrol van, smiling a lot and appearing relieved to have been freed in the United States. Some were carrying sleeping babies. A toddler walked behind his mother wrapped in a silver heated blanket.

A man who had traveled nearly 2,414 kilometers from Toledo, Ohio, hoping to pick up a friend and her family, wore a neon yellow vest and quietly scrutinized the line of Haitian migrants. Dave, who didn’t want to share his last name, didn’t see them.

“I feel like my friend is worth it for me to come and help me,” he said, explaining that he was wearing the vest for his friend – a nurse he had met during a humanitarian trip to Haiti over ten years ago – might have spotted him in the crowd when she arrived with her husband and 3-year-old daughter.

“I see it just as an opportunity to serve someone,” said Dave, who considers himself a Trump supporter but hates how politicized the immigration issue has become. “We have so many.”


Maria Verza reported from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. AP reporters Sarah Morgan in Del Rio, Texas; Ben Fox and Nancy Benac in Washington; Elliot Spagat in Los Angeles; and Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan, contributed to this story.

María Verza and Juan Lozano, The Associated Press

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