According to Department of Homeland Security officials, approximately 4,000 migrants were still under the bridge connecting Del Rio and Mexico as of Thursday. On Saturday, the number reached a peak as migrants, confused by the policies of the Biden administration and misinformation on social networks, converged on the crossing. Officials said that food, shelter and medical care were being provided to those in need.
DHS officials said that approximately 1,400 people had been sent to Haiti by 13 flights. They were quickly expelled under Title 42, the pandemic public healthcare authority, according to DHS officials. An additional 3,200 people are currently being held in the U.S., and they are being processed. Several thousand have returned home to Mexico,DHS officials stated, under anonymity, to inform journalists about the ongoing operation.
Late Wednesday, Mexico's immigration agency estimated that there were 600 migrants in Ciudad Acuna. This number was evident at the riverside camp. Others are found in hotels and private residences throughout the city. Officials from the city said Wednesday that Mexican authorities have removed approximately 250 Haitian migrants since Sunday night. However, the claim that "several thousand" migrants were returning to Mexico from Del Rio camp seems exaggerated.
Officials said that the State Department is currently in negotiations with Brazil and Chile in order to allow some Haitians to return to their homeland. However, this is complicated by the fact that some of them do not have legal status in Chile or Brazil.
Mexico and the United States appeared keen to end the increasingly politicized humanitarian crisis, while the U.S. expulsion from Haiti caused backlash for President Joe Biden's administration.
The Biden administration's special representative to Haiti, Daniel Foote submitted a resignationprotesting large-scale expulsions "inhumane" of Haitian migrants. Officials from the U.S. announced this Thursday.
Rev. Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights leader, said that he visited the camp and witnessed "a really catastrophic and human disgrace."
"Del Rio does not have a racist population. Del Rio is a caring, loving community," one protester shouted as Sharpton spoke to reporters.
Sharpton pledged to "continue coming back... and stand by our people and ensure asylum is treated in the right way and in the right manner."
Mexican migrants found that state police trucks were placed every 30 feet between their tents, and the water's edge, in Mexico. After anxious minutes of uncertainty, many families decided to cross the river at a point with only one police vehicle. They figured it would be better to try their luck with U.S. authorities.
The park's entrance was blocked. Three buses and three National Guard troops waited outside. Helicopters flew above the park.
As migrants tried to decide on what to do, the camp's typical early morning hum was muted.
Guileme Paterson (36-year-old Haitian woman) appeared confused. Before she began to cross Rio Grande with her husband, and their four children, she said "It's a difficult time."
Mexican authorities appeared to be trying to force the migrants across the Rio Grande into Texas with their operation. The migrants were funneled back to their crossing point by a fence and the state police vehicles.
The buses that were waiting for them had vanished. Most of the migrants in camp remained.
Michou Petion carried her 2-year-old son, Michou, in her arms towards the river. Her husband was carrying bags full of belongings, as well as several pairs of sneakers that he had dangled around the neck.
Petion stated that the U.S. was deporting a lot of Haitians, and now she doesn't know if they will allow her to enter or leave.
Christoph Jankhoefer, a representative of Doctors Without Borders, said that they have been talking to many people in Ciudad Acuna and that they are anxious, afraid, and desperate.
Some Haitians have been allowed to temporarily remain in the U.S. to seek asylum, or to claim another claim to residency. Notices will be sent later to immigration authorities. Officials from DHS declined to give details but stated that they were people with "vulnerabilities" which could mean they have children, are pregnant, or the U.S. has no capacity to detain them, especially during the pandemic.
Despite Democratic lawmakers' pressure, there are no plans for stopping the expulsion of other migrants under Title 42.
This provision was created by Trump's administration in March 2020 in order to justify strict immigration policies to stop the spread of coronavirus. The Biden administration used Title 42 to justify the deportation and expulsion of Haitian migrants.
Late last week, a federal judge ruled that the regulation was invalid and gave the government two more weeks to stop its use. However, the Biden administration appealed Monday's decision.
UNICEF stated in a Thursday statement that more than two-thirds of the three Haitian migrants who were expelled are women and children. About 40% of those in Del Rio are children.
"Haiti is reeling after the triple tragedy of natural catastrophes, gang violence, and the COVID-19 panademic," stated Henrietta Fore (UNICEF's executive Director). She said that those returned without adequate protection "find theirself even more vulnerable to violence poverty and displacement -- factors which drove them to migrate in first place."
Officials from DHS stated that about two-thirds are children and the rest are adults. Unaccompanied children are rare.
The DHS announced Thursday that the Border Patrol had temporarily stopped using horses after outcry about images of Border Patrol agents riding on horseback allegedly using aggressive tactics against migrants.
A line of Border Patrol agents, along with Texas state troopers, searched the tall carrizo cane just outside the camp Thursday morning, apparently in search for migrants.
Foote, who was appointed U.S. envoy to Haiti in July, informed Secretary of State Antony Blinken he was resigning immediately, "with deep regret and apologies for those seeking critical changes."
He wrote that he would not associate himself with the inhumane and counterproductive United States decision to deport thousands Haitian refugees and illegal immigrant to Haiti. This is a country where American officials are kept in secure compounds due to the threat posed to daily life by armed groups. "Our policy approach to Haiti is still deeply flawed. My policy recommendations have been ignored or dismissed.
This career diplomat was well-known for his frustration with Washington's lack of urgency and the glacial pace at which efforts to improve Haitian conditions were made.
Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department, disputed Foote’s claims, stating that his proposals had been "fully evaluated in a rigorously transparent policy process."
"Some of these proposals were found to be detrimental to our commitment to democracy promotion in Haiti, and were therefore rejected during the policy-making process. Price stated that Price was simply wrong to claim his proposals were ignored.
Foote was cheered by a top Haitian official as he accused U.S. Border Patrol violating the rights and liberties of Haitian migrants.
Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s elections minister, stated that this was the first time the U.S. diplomat has gone against the will U.S. government. We salute that.