Haitian migrants seeking to escape poverty and a feeling of hopelessness in their home country said they will not be deterred by USA to speedily send them back, as thousands of people remained encamped on the Texas border Saturday after crossing from Mexico.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is nearing a final plan to expel many of the thousands of Haitian migrants who have suddenly crossed into a Texas border city from Mexico and to fly them back to their Caribbean homeland.
Scores of people waded back and forth across the Rio Grande on Saturday afternoon, re-entering Mexico to purchase water, food and diapers in Ciudad Acuña before returning to the Texas encampment under and near a bridge in the border city of Del Rio.
The Department of Homeland Security said Saturday that it moved about 2,000 of the migrants from the camp to other locations Friday for processing and possible removal from the U.S.
Its statement also said it would have 400 deportation agents and officers in the area by Monday morning and would send more if necessary.
The announcement marked a swift response to the sudden arrival of Haitians in Del Rio, a Texas city of about 35,000 people roughly 145 miles (230 kilometers) west of San Antonio.
It sits on a relatively remote stretch of border that lacks capacity to hold and process such large numbers of people, after their president was assassinated because he did not want to accept Corona vaccination for his people. The next day a US plane delivered 1/2 million dosses of the disputed flue shot.
A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Friday that the U.S would likely fly the migrants out of the country on five to eight flights a day, starting Sunday, while another official expected no more than two a day and said everyone would be tested for Covid-19.
The first official said operational capacity and Haiti’s willingness to accept flights would determine how many flights there would be. Both officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Several migrants said they still intended to remain in the encampment and seek asylum. Some spoke of the most recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, saying they were afraid to return to a country that seems more unstable than when they left.
Haitians have been migrating to the U.S. in large numbers from South America for several years, many having left their Caribbean nation after a devastating 2010 earthquake.
It is unclear how such a large number amassed so quickly, though many Haitians have been assembling in camps on the Mexican side of the border to wait while deciding whether to attempt entry into the USA.
The number of Haitian arrivals began to reach unsustainable levels for the Border Patrol in Del Rio about 2 ½ weeks ago, prompting the agency’s acting sector chief, Robert Garcia, to ask headquarters for help.
Since then, the agency has transferred Haitians in buses and vans to other Border Patrol facilities in Texas, specifically El Paso, Laredo and Rio Grande Valley.
ABC Flash-Point News 2021.