Migrants continued to cross the US-Mexico border on Sunday, even as the first deportation flights carried away hundreds of Haitians who had been living under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
More than 14,000 Haitians have been camping out in squalid conditions under Del Rio International Bridge since last week waiting to be arrested, leading the Biden administration to close an entry point, deploy more Border Patrol agents and scramble deportation flights.
At the border about a dozen Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles lined up near the bridge, which forced the migrants to wade through deeper water in search of other ways to cross the Rio Grande into Texas.
Border Patrol agents set off on horseback for 1.5 miles from the original crossing to find several hundred Haitian immigrants still crossing the river into the US, who were ordered to the Del Rio camp.
Border Patrol Chief Raul L. Ortiz told Associated Press on Sunday that 3,300 migrants have already been removed from the Del Rio camp to planes or detention centers, and he expected to have 3,000 of the approximately 12,600 remaining migrants moved within a day.
The first of three deportation flights carrying 145 people each took off on Sunday from San Antonio to Port-au-Prince and a US government official told the Associated Press there could be as many as eight flights a day.
Deportees, worried what awaited them in their homeland, were given $100 and fed meals of rice, beans and chicken.
Ariel Henry, Haiti’s prime minister, posted on Twitter that he is concerned about the “extremely difficult” conditions at the border camp and said Haitians would be welcomed back.
“We want to reassure them that measures have already been taken to give them a better welcome upon their return to the country and that they will not be left behind,” he said.
Some Haitians said they do not want to return home.
“In Haiti, there is no security. The country is in a political crisis,” Fabricio Jean, 38, who arrived in Texas with his wife and two daughters, told the Associated Press.
Many of the Haitians arriving at the US border have come from South America where they fled after an earthquake in 2010 but failed to find jobs.
The arrival of the Haitians in Del Rio is only adding fuel to criticism surrounding President Biden’s handling of immigration at the southern border.
Upon taking office in January, Biden began rolling back or dumping many of Trump’s immigration policies that led many immigrants in Mexico and Central American countries to believe they would be welcome in the US.
Last month, there were more than 200,000 encounters with illegal immigrants — the second straight month the number exceeded 200,000.
The August figures show a 317 percent increase from a year ago.
With Post Wires