USA | Saturday, September 18, 2021
The US government is set to fly back to Haiti thousands of migrants who have gathered under a US-Mexico border bridge in recent days, US media report.
Officials informed the Associated Press that flights will resume on Sunday and might include up to eight each day.
At least 10,000 people, largely Haitian migrants, have set up camp beneath the bridge that connects Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acua, Mexico, with more coming.
Bruno Lozano, the mayor of Del Rio, has proclaimed a state of emergency.
Border patrol had been overloaded, and “agitated” migrants were living in difficult conditions, he added, describing the situation as “unprecedented” and “surreal.”
According to US Customs and Border Protection, the border crossing at Del Rio was temporarily closed on Friday “to react to critical safety and security needs posed by” the flow of migrants.
The improvised camp at Del Rio lacks basic services, and migrants have been swimming back across the river into Mexico to collect supplies in temperatures as high as 37°C (99°F).
According to the Associated Press, large reed shelters have been built, and many people are bathing and washing clothing in the river. At least two kids have been delivered in the camp, according to reports.
The camp was “chaos,” according to Ramses Colon, a 41-year-old Afro-Cuban asylum seeker who worked in Peru to earn money for the trip.
He told the Washington Post, “You stand there among thousands with your little ticket waiting for your time.” While they wait to be processed, migrants are given tickets with numbers.
In an interview with Fox News, Republican Congressman Tony Gonzalez, whose district includes Del Rio, claimed the situation is “as bad as I’ve ever seen it.”
“It’s stomach wrenching and dangerous,” Mr Gonzalez added, “when you witness the quantity of people and how chaotic it is, and how there is basically no border, and people are coming in and out of Mexico with ease.”
According to accounts, the migrants are predominantly Haitians, with some Cubans, Peruvians, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans among them.
According to the Washington Post, they appear to be part of a wider surge of Haitians going north, many of whom arrived in Brazil and other South American countries after the 2010 earthquake.
The United States has been dealing with an influx of migrants along the border.
According to government figures released earlier this year, the number of migrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border in July surpassed 200,000 for the first time in 21 years.
According to government figures released on Wednesday, authorities arrested more than 195,000 migrants across the Mexican border last month. The number of people arrested this summer is up significantly from the 51,000 who were detained in August of last year.
Jenn Budd, an immigrant rights activist, told the BBC that she believes the incident is directly related to the extension of Title 42, a Trump-era epidemic policy that allows the US to quickly deport undocumented migrants.
“When you have a big number of people who need refugee or asylum status and the system that deals with refugees and asylum seekers has virtually shut down, people have little choice except to cross illegally,” said Ms Budd, a former Border Patrol agent and intelligence analyst.
“You need a functional and humane asylum system to have national security,” she continued. “Otherwise, people end up spilling over illegally, nobody gets checked, and then people get hurt like this”.
On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that the government could not invoke title 42 any longer. According to the judge, the policy does not provide the government the authority to deport migrants or deny them the right to seek refuge. In 14 days, the order will take effect, giving the government time to file an appeal.
President Joe Biden has established a taskforce to reunite migrant children with their families, halted construction of Donald Trump’s border wall, and asked for assessments of legal immigration programs cancelled by his predecessor since taking office.
Mr. Biden has also presided over a record-breaking flow of people crossing the US-Mexico border. including hundreds of unaccompanied children who are being held in US immigration detention facilities.