The US acted Sunday to stem the flow of migrants into Texas by blocking the Mexican border at an isolated town where thousands of Haitian refugees set up a camp under a bridge, and American officials began flying some of the migrants back to their homeland. Border Patrol Chief Raul L. Ortiz said Sunday that 3,300 migrants have already been removed from the Del Rio camp to planes or detention centers, and he expects to have 3,000 of the approximately 12,600 remaining migrants moved within a day. The rest should be gone within the week, he said. The first three planes left San Antonio for Port-au-Prince on Sunday, with the first arriving in the afternoon.
“We are working around the clock to expeditiously move migrants out of the heat, elements and from underneath this bridge to our processing facilities in order to quickly process and remove individuals from the United States consistent with our laws and our policies,” Ortiz said. The rapid expulsions were made possible by a pandemic-related authority adopted by former President Trump in March 2020 that allows for migrants to be immediately removed from the country without an opportunity to seek asylum. President Biden exempted unaccompanied children from the order but let the rest stand.
Haitians have been migrating to the US in large numbers from South America for several years, many having left their Caribbean nation after a devastating 2010 earthquake. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry wrote Sunday on Twitter that he is concerned about conditions at the border camp and that the migrants would be welcomed back. But another Haitian political leader was skeptical. “The economy is a disaster, (and) there are no jobs,” said Election Minister Mathias Pierre, adding that most Haitians can’t satisfy basic needs. “The prime minister should negotiate with the US government to stop those deportations.”
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