In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security stated that about 2,000 migrants were moved to other locations by the Department of Homeland Security on Friday for processing and possibly removal from the United States. It stated that it had 400 officers and agents in the area Monday morning, and would send additional if needed.
This announcement is a quick response to the sudden arrival in Del Rio of Haitians. It's a city of approximately 35,000 people, located roughly 145 miles (233 km) west of San Antonio. It sits on a remote stretch border that doesn't have the capacity to process large numbers of people.
According to a U.S. official, the number of flights will depend on Haiti's readiness to accept them. According to the official, negotiations were progressing with Haitian authorities.
According to the official, the U.S. would likely fly between five and eight planes per day starting Sunday. Another official expects no more than two. He also stated that all migrants would be tested against COVID-19. The two officials spoke under the condition that they were not allowed to speak publicly about the matter.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection shut down traffic in both directions Friday at the border crossing between Del Rio and Ciudad Acuna in Mexico "to respond to immediate safety and security needs." The crossing was located in Eagle Pass, which is 57 miles (91 km) away.
Although crowd estimates vary, Val Verde County Sheriff Frank Joe Martinez stated Friday that there had been approximately 13,700 new arrivals to Del Rio. Many migrants built shelters out of giant reeds called carrizo cane and pitched tents. Many washed their clothes in the river.
While the flight plan is potentially huge in scale, it depends on how Haitians react to it. They may have to decide whether they want to remain put or risk being sent back to a country wracked with poverty and political instabil, or to Mexico. Fast-track expulsions are not available to unaccompanied children.
DHS stated that "our borders aren't open" and that people shouldn't make dangerous journeys.
The agency stated that individuals and families were subject to restrictions at the border, including expulsion. "Irregular immigration poses a significant risk to the health and wellbeing of border communities as well as the lives of migrants, and should be avoided."
Stephen Miller, who was the architect of Trump's hardline policies, and is a frequent critic to the Biden administration, expressed doubts that Haiti's government would allow large-scale flights. He recalls daily conversations with U.S. State Department officials over Haiti's resistance against flights last year, with Haiti only relenting under the threat sanctions.
Mexican immigration officials in Tamaulipas ordered 500 Haitians to get off their buses, approximately 120 miles (200 km) south of Texas border. They continued walking towards the border.
Many Haitians have been migrating to America in large numbers from South America since 2010, many of them having fled their Caribbean homeland following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Many fled their homeland after the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. They travelled by foot, bus, and car to the U.S. border.
Although it is not clear how so many people managed to accumulate so quickly, many Haitians have been gathering at the Mexican border to wait and decide if they want to try to enter the United States.
The U.S. authorities are under severe scrutiny after Biden swiftly dismantled Trump's administration policies, which Biden considered cruel and inhumane. This included one that required asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico while they waited for U.S. immigration court proceedings.
The March 2020 pandemic-related order to expel migrants immediately without giving them an opportunity to seek asylum remains in force, however unaccompanied children and families are exempted. Biden exempted children travelling alone from his first month as president.
Nicole Phillips, the legal director of advocacy group Haitian Bridge Alliance said Saturday that the U.S. government should allow migrants to apply for asylum and process them, not rush to expel them. Although the group's executive director was on his way to the region, he hadn't yet arrived.
Phillips stated, "It is really a humanitarian crisis." Phillips stated, "There must be a lot more help there now."
Mexico has offered to accept expelled families from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. This opens up the possibility for Haitians and others.
Mexico's immigration agency stated Saturday in a statement that it has established a permanent dialogue with Haitian officials "to address irregular migration flows and their transit through Mexico as well as their assisted returns."
The agency did not specify whether it was referring either to the Haitians living in Ciudad Acuna, or the thousands in Tapachula at the Guatemalan border. It also didn't immediately respond to a request for more details. The new dialogue will address the causes of Haitian migration and ensure regular, orderly and safe migration.
The United States stopped nearly 209,000 migrants at the border in August. This was almost 209,000 stops per year. Many of these stops were repeat crossers.