All migrants left Texas border camp: Officials
President Joe Biden said on Friday the way officers were using their horses was “horrible” and “people will pay” accordingly.
No migrants remained at the Texas border camp on Friday where nearly 15,000 people – mostly Haitians – had converged days earlier to seek asylum, local and federal officials said.
It’s a dramatic change from last Saturday, when the number peaked as migrants driven by confusion over Biden administration policies and misinformation on social media converged at the border crossing between Del Rio, in Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
In a press conference, the mayor of Del Rio, Buno Lozano, called it “phenomenal news”.
Many face 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 poorest country of the western hemisphere. The devastating earthquake of 2010 forced many of them to leave their homelands.
The US and Mexico appeared keen to end the increasingly politicized humanitarian situation that led to the resignation of the US special envoy to Haiti and widespread outrage over the emergence of images of border officials maneuvering their horses to 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 into the use of horses. Asked about the gap, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Mr. Biden “was not prejudging a result. He spoke from the heart. She said he doesn’t interfere with any investigation.
Mr Mayorkas said around 2,000 Haitians have 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.
He said the United States had allowed about 12,400 to enter the country, at least temporarily, while it asked 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.
Mr 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, just over 100 migrants, mostly single men, stayed in the riverside camp in Ciudad Acuña on Friday morning.
Dozens of families there returned to Del Rio overnight after Mexican authorities left the area. As the river rose, some border patrol officers helped families who were struggling to cross with children.
Some migrants have also moved to small hotels or private homes in Ciudad Acuña. Authorities arrested six migrants at one o’clock Thursday afternoon.
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 900 miles 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.
Asked Friday about the situation in Ciudad Acuña, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said: “We don’t want Mexico to be a migrant camp, we want the problem to be fully addressed.”
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 1,500 miles from Toledo, Ohio, hoping to pick up a friend and her family wore a neon yellow vest and quietly scanned the line of Haitian migrants. Dave, who didn’t want to share his last name, didn’t see them in this group.
“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 just see it 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.”
Mr Lozano, the mayor of Del Rio, said the international bridge would not reopen until Sunday evening at the earliest, as officials make sure no one is hiding in the brush along the Rio Grande and finish the cleanup . 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.
Mr Lozano said there were no deaths during the period of the camp’s occupation and that 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 actually welcome childbirths here,” Lozano said.
The government has no plans to stop deporting some migrants on public health grounds despite pressure from Democratic lawmakers, who say Haitian migrants are being sent back to a troubled country some left more ago. ten years.
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 special envoy of the Biden administration in Haiti, Daniel Foote, on Thursday handed in a letter of resignation to protest against the large-scale “inhuman” expulsions of Haitian migrants.
Foote, who was appointed in July, wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, saying he was stepping down immediately “with deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking critical changes,” and said some of his policy recommendations had been ignored.
State Department spokesman Ned Price disputed Foote’s claims, saying his proposals had been “fully considered in a rigorous and transparent political process.”
The humanitarian group UNICEF also condemned the deportations, saying Thursday that early estimates show that more than two in three migrants deported to Haiti are women and children, including newborns.
“Haiti is reeling from the triple tragedy of natural disasters, gang violence and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, who said those returned without protection adequate “are even more vulnerable to violence, poverty and displacement. – the factors that prompted them to migrate in the first place. “
And civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, who visited the camp on Thursday, pledged to “stand by our people and ensure that asylum is treated in a way and in a way. “.