CIUDAD ACUÑA, Mexico — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Meyerkas is expected to arrive in Del Rio, Texas, on Monday with 400 agents and officers, as state and federal officials mobilize to take thousands of refugees camping under a bridge to Haiti.
According to Del Rio officials, more than 14,500 migrants – most of whom are Haitians – A camp under a bridge is experiencing high temperatures and bad conditions. Haitians, many of whom have lived in Latin America for years, have been moving to the isolated city for weeks.
In response to swift arrivals, the United States closed the Mexican border Sunday to Del Rio, a city of about 35,000 people located about 145 miles west of San Antonio. Mexican officials tightened immigration controls, cut off entry points to Ciudad Acua to prevent more migrants from reaching the border, and announced it would also begin deporting Haitians.
About 3,300 migrants from the camp have already been transferred by planes or to detention centers, Border Patrol chief Raul El Ortiz said at a news conference.
At least three deportation flights with 145 passengers arrived in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Sunday, and Haiti said six flights were expected on Tuesday.
The move marks a shift to using a pandemic-related law to allow migrants to claim asylum without allowing them to be immediately expelled, said a US official who has been asked to discuss the matter publicly. were not authorized to do so, told the Associated Press.
‘We can’t hold back’:Haitian migrants face mass expulsion amid US-Mexico border crackdown
Here’s what we know:
How did Haitian immigrants get to Del Rio, Texas?
Haitians have been moving from Ciudad Acua, Mexico, to Del Rio, Texas, for about three weeks.
Some Haitians in the camp lived for some time in Mexican cities along the US border, while others recently arrived after being trapped near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, said Nicole Phillips, legal director of the advocacy group Haitian Bridge Alliance. Many people wait in camps in Mexico before deciding to cross the border.
After the devastating 2010 earthquake, many left Haiti and lived in South America for years. As jobs disappeared from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many people traveled to the US border by foot, bus and car.
It’s unclear how the large group gathered so quickly, but misinformation may have played a role, according to Edgar Rodriguez, a lawyer at the Casa del Migrant migrant shelter in Piedras Negras, south of Del Rio. Migrants often make choices after hearing false rumors that policies are going to change or that cities have different enforcement policies.
How is it at the border?
There is despair among the migrants on both sides of the border.
There is no easy access to food and water in the camp and the garbage dumps are 10 feet wide.
Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano said hot temperatures and the Rio Grande’s fluctuating levels could make the camp dangerous. Temperatures in Del Rio have been in the high 90s and are forecast to reach 105 degrees on Monday.
Migrants have pitched tents and made temporary shelters under the bridge, while others bathe and wash clothes in the river. Val Verde County Judge Louise Owens, the county’s top elected official, said at least two women have given birth, one of whom later tested positive for COVID-19.
Haitian migrants must decide whether to stay there and risk being deported to the country they left or return to Mexico.
Some of those waiting in Mexico, such as Charles Edirem, said they fear returning to Haiti after the recent devastating earthquake and the assassination of President Jovanel Mosse.
Edirame and his wife and daughter entered the camp by crossing the border but returned to Mexico upon hearing of the deportation. The Haitian family was deciding what to do next.
“We don’t have money, we don’t have anything. We spent two months coming here on foot,” he said. “If I had gone back, I could have died the next day.”
Migrant shelter in El Paso ready to receive refugees
El Paso’s Announcement House Haitians ready to receive refugees on Monday Even flights deporting hundreds of Haitians were scheduled to depart from San Antonio for Por-au-Prince.
Ruben García, director of El Paso’s Announcement House migrant shelter, said Monday that officials had told the shelter to be prepared to receive refugees, but that no Haitians in El Paso have been released yet.
“It’s really unexpected because you look at all the different things they’re doing like expelling people directly to Haiti,” he said. “Sometimes I’m told to get ready, and so we get ready and nothing happens.
“Right now, we haven’t got any,” he said. “I know they are using a lot of buses, that they started coming on Friday. We are on standby. We are ready.”
An El Paso spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Why is America deporting asylum seekers?
While international law protects the right to seek asylum, Public Health Ordinance Title 42, Adopted by former President Donald Trump during the COVID-19 pandemic and continued by President Joe Biden, allows for speedy eviction without the opportunity to seek asylum.
Single children and multiple families are exempt, but on Friday the administration said it would appeal Judgment of the judge who ordered it to use Title 42 to expel migrant families.
The US government has been unable to expel many migrant families because Mexican officials have agreed to only accept expelled families from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, creating an opportunity for Haitians and others of other nationalities to Has happened.
Last month, the US Supreme Court upheld a judge’s order to reinstate a Trump-era policy that required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting their US immigration court hearings, but Mexico is still have not yet agreed to its terms.
Contributions: Lauren Villagran, The El Paso Times; The Associated Press