fbpx

U.S. Closes Part of Texas Border, Begins Flying Haitians Back Home

The United States acted Sunday to stem the flow of migrants into Texas by blocking the Mexican border at an isolated town where thousands of Haitian refugees set up a camp, and American officials began flying some of the migrants back to their homeland. Mexico said Sunday it would also begin deporting Haitians to their homeland. A government official said the flights would be from towns near the U.S. border and the border with Guatemala, where the largest group remains.

The migrants initially found other ways to cross nearby until they were confronted by federal and state law enforcement. About a dozen Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles were lined up near the bridge and river where Haitians have been crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, for almost three weeks. Haitian immigrants were seen still crossing the river into the U.S. about 1.5 miles east of the previous spot, but were eventually stopped by Border Patrol agents on horseback and Texas law enforcement officials.

Border agents yelled at the migrants who were crossing in the waist-deep river to get out of the water. The several hundred who had successfully crossed and were sitting along the river bank on the U.S. side were ordered to the Del Rio camp. “Go now,” agents yelled. Mexican authorities in an airboat told others trying to cross to go back into Mexico. But some of the migrants at the Del Rio camp said the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse make them 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. After jobs dried up from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made the dangerous trek by foot, bus, and car to the U.S. border, including through the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian jungle.

Rapid expulsions were made possible by a pandemic-related authority adopted by Donald Trump in March 2020 that allows for migrants to be immediately removed from the country without an opportunity to seek asylum. President Joe Biden exempted unaccompanied children from the order but let the rest stand.

Upon returning to the airport in Port-au-Prince, the deportees were given $100 and tested for COVID-19, though authorities were not planning to put them into quarantine. Each deportee also received a box of food but were not assigned housing, leaving many families without a place to sleep.

One Haitian political leader questioned Sunday whether the nation could handle an influx of returning migrants and said the government should stop the repatriation. “We have the situation in the south with the earthquake. The economy is a disaster, (and) there are no jobs,” Election Minister Mathias Pierre said, adding that most Haitians can’t satisfy basic needs. “The prime minister should negotiate with the U.S. government to stop those deportations in this moment of crises.”



Follow Us On: Facebook and Twitter