Haitian migrants trying to escape a sense of poverty, hunger and despair in their home country said the US plan to deport them faster would not deter them as thousands camped at the Texas border on Saturday after crossing from Mexico. were cast.
People continued to roam the Rio Grande on Saturday afternoon, re-entering Ciudad Acuna to buy water, food and diapers before returning to a Texas camp near and under a bridge in and near the Mexican border city of Del Rio.
Junior Jean, a 32-year-old man from Haiti, watched people carefully carry cases of water or bags of food through knee-high river waters. Jean said he had spent the past four years on the streets in Chile, resigned to searching for food in garbage cans.
“We are all looking for a better life,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Saturday that it moved about 2,000 migrants from the camp to other locations on Friday for processing and possible removal from the US. more if necessary.
The announcement marked a swift response to the sudden arrival of Haitians in Del Rio, the Texas city of about 35,000 people, about 145 miles (230 kilometers) west of San Antonio. It is located on a relatively remote part of the border which lacks the capacity to capture and process such a large number of people.
A US official told The Associated Press on Friday that operational capacity and Haiti’s willingness to accept flights will determine how many flights there will be. The official said that progress is being made in talks with the Haitian authorities.
The US will fly five to eight planes a day starting Sunday, the official said on Friday, while another official expected no more than two a day and said all migrants would be exposed to COVID-19. will be tested for. The two officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Explained the US plans on Saturday, many migrants said they still intended to stay in the camp and seek refuge. Some spoke of the most recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, saying they were afraid to return to a country that seems more volatile than they left.
“In Haiti, there is no security,” said Fabrico Jean, a 38-year-old Haitian who arrived with his wife and two daughters. “The country is in a political crisis.”
Jorge Luis Mora Castillo, 48, of Cuba, said he arrived in Acua on Saturday and also planned to cross into the US Castillo, adding that his family had paid $12,000 to get him, his wife and their son out of Paraguay. paid to. South American nation where they lived for four years.
Describing the US message discouraging migrants, Castillo said he would not change his mind.
“Because to go back to Cuba is to die,” he said.
US Customs and Border Protection closed vehicular and foot traffic in both directions on Friday, the only border crossing between Del Río and Ciudad Acua, Mexico, “to respond to urgent safety and security needs”. Passengers were being directed indefinitely to a crossing at Eagle Pass, about 55 miles (90 km) away.
Crowd estimates varied, but Val Verde County Sheriff Frank Joe Martinez said Friday that there were about 13,700 new arrivals in Del Rio. Migrants pitched tents and built temporary shelters out of giant reeds known as carrizo canes. Many people took a bath in the river and washed their clothes.
Haitians have been migrating to the US in large numbers from South America for many years, with many leaving their Caribbean nation after the devastating 2010 earthquake. After jobs dried up from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made the dangerous trek by foot, bus and car to the US border, including the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian wilderness.
It is unclear how such large numbers accumulated so quickly, although many Haitians are gathering in camps on the Mexican side of the border to decide whether to attempt to enter the Americas.
The flight plan, while potentially massive, hinges on how the Haitians respond. They may have to decide whether to live in a poor country ravaged by poverty and political instability at risk of being deported or returning to Mexico. Unaccompanied children are exempt from fast-track eviction.
“Our borders are not open, and people should not make dangerous travel,” DHS said.
“Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including eviction,” the agency wrote. “Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and well-being of border communities and the lives of migrants themselves, and should not be attempted.”
Stephen Miller, the chief architect of former President Donald Trump’s harsh policies and a frequent critic of the Biden administration, expressed doubts that Haiti’s government would agree to the number of flights for a large-scale operation. He recalled daily calls with US State Department officials last year over Haiti’s resistance to flights, with Haiti only softening under the threat of sanctions.
About 500 Haitians had been ordered off buses by Mexican immigration officials in Tamaulipas state, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) south of the Texas border, the state government said in a news release Friday. They proceeded towards the border on foot.
US officials are under severe scrutiny after Biden quickly ended policies of the Trump administration that Biden deemed cruel or inhumane, especially to asylum seekers while awaiting US immigration court hearings. Requires residency in Mexico.
An epidemiological order to immediately evacuate migrants without the opportunity to seek asylum, introduced in March 2020, is in effect, but exempts unaccompanied children and many families. During his first month in office, Biden opted to exempt children traveling alone on humanitarian grounds.
Nicole Phillips, legal director of advocacy group Haitian Bridge Alliance, said on Saturday that the US government should process migrants and allow them to apply for asylum, not rush them to evacuate.
“This is really a humanitarian crisis,” Phillips said. “There’s a lot of help out there now.”
Mexico has agreed to only take families expelled from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, creating an opening for Haitians and other nationalities.
Mexico’s immigration agency said in a statement on Saturday that Mexico has started “permanent dialogue” with representatives of the Haitian government to address the situation of irregular migrant flows during their entry and transit through Mexico, with At the same time, their help can also be returned.
The agency did not specify whether it was referring to Haitians in Ciudad Acua on the Guatemala border or thousands of others in Tapachula, and the agency did not immediately respond to a request for more details.
In August, US officials stopped migrants nearly 209,000 times at the border, close to a 20-year high, although many stops involved repeated crossers with no legal consequences for being expelled under pandemic authorization. Huh.
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