Haitians evacuated, Texas border post to reopen

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DEL RIO, Texas – The Texas border post where thousands of Haitian migrants have converged in recent weeks was due to be partially reopened on Saturday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency said.

Gallery: Scenes from the US-Mexico border

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Federal and local officials said no migrants remained in the makeshift settlement on Friday, after some of the nearly 15,000 people were expelled from the country and many more were allowed to stay in the United States. , at least temporarily, while they were trying to apply for asylum.

In a statement, officials said business and travel operations would resume at the Del Rio port of entry for passenger traffic at 4 p.m. Saturday. It will be reopened Monday morning for freight traffic.

The Customs and Border Protection agency temporarily closed the border crossing between Del Rio and Ciudad Acuna, Mexico on September 17 after migrants suddenly entered Del Rio and camped on the US side of the border bridge.

Officers searched the brush along the Rio Grande on Saturday to make sure no one was hiding near the site. Bruno Lozano, the mayor of Del Rio, said officials also wanted to ensure that no other large group of migrants came to the Del Rio area to try to set up a similar camp.

The Department of Homeland Security planned to continue flights to Haiti throughout the weekend, ignoring criticism from Democratic lawmakers and human rights groups who say Haitians are being sent back to a troubled country that some left more than ten years ago.

In an outcry over the US treatment of Haitian asylum seekers, the prime minister of the besieged island country said on Saturday that inequality and conflict were spurring migration. But he stopped before directly criticizing Washington on the issue.

“We do not wish to question the right of a sovereign state to control the borders of entry into its territory, or to return to the country of origin those who enter a country illegally,” said Prime Minister Ariel. Henry in a video speech to Parliament. Annual meeting of world leaders of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Migration will continue as long as the planet has the two rich areas, when most of the world’s population live in poverty, if not extreme poverty, with no prospect of a better life,” he said. .

The number of people at the Del Rio encampment peaked last Saturday as migrants driven by confusion over Biden administration policies and misinformation on social media converged at the border post.

The United States and Mexico have worked swiftly, appearing keen to end the humanitarian situation which has led to the resignation of the US special envoy to Haiti and widespread outrage over the appearance of images of border officers maneuvering their horses to block and forcibly move the migrants.

STOPS AT THE RISE OF THE SEA

Many migrants risk deportation because they are not covered by protections recently extended by the Biden administration to the more than 100,000 Haitians already in the United States, citing security concerns and social unrest in the poorest country of the western hemisphere. A devastating earthquake in 2010 forced many people to leave their homelands.

The number of Haitians arrested at sea by the US coastguard has exceeded 1,000 for this fiscal year after two interceptions of 260 migrants who returned to Haiti on Friday, the agency said.

For the exercise which began on October 1, 2020 and will end on Thursday, the coast guard reported that crews had intercepted 1,119 Haitian migrants.

This exceeds each of the previous four fiscal years, which peaked at 932 in fiscal year 2018-19. Combined 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal years: 1,350.

On Wednesday afternoon, a 55-foot sailing freighter carrying 183 people reached about 36 miles off Cap Du Mole, Haiti, when coast guard Resolute halted the boat’s progress. On September 18, about 20 miles south of Cuba, a 35-foot freighter with 77 people was stopped by the Coast Guard Diligence.

The Coast Guard, which says it provides all migrants with food, water and basic medical care, said none of the migrants had “significant injuries or medical problems.”

The US government deported 2,324 Haitians on 21 flights to Haiti from September 19 to Friday, according to the Department of Homeland Security. On Friday, the government operated four flights from Del Rio with 375 Haitian migrants; two flights to Port-au-Prince and two to Cap-Haitien. The department said the flights will continue “on a regular basis” as people are being deported under pandemic powers that deny migrants the opportunity to seek asylum.

The Trump administration adopted the policy, called Title 42, in March 2020 to justify restrictive immigration policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Biden administration used it to justify the expulsion of Haitian migrants.

Late last week, a federal judge ruled the rule inappropriate and gave the government two weeks to arrest it, but the Biden administration appealed.

Officials have said the State Department is in talks with Brazil and Chile to allow some Haitians who previously resided in those countries to return, but it’s complicated as some of them no longer have their homes there. legal status.

ASYLUM APPLICATIONS

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the United States had allowed around 12,400 migrants to enter the country, at least temporarily, while it asked an immigration judge to stay under the asylum laws or for any other legal reason. They could ultimately be refused and would be subject to referral.

Mayorkas said around 5,000 people are being held by the department and are being processed to determine whether they will be deported or allowed to assert their legal residency claim. Some have returned to Mexico.

A US official with direct knowledge of the situation said seven flights were scheduled to Haiti on Saturday and six today, although that is subject to change. The official was not allowed to speak publicly.

No migrants were left in the camp on the Mexican side of the border on Saturday morning. Authorities had transferred the last migrants to a walled, roofless settlement in downtown Ciudad Acuna, where the Mexican immigration agency had set up tents.

This refuge had 240 people on Saturday morning, according to Felipe Basulto, the secretary of the municipality. The Mexican government has moved migrants by land and air to the south of the country and planned to start sending some to Haiti in the coming days.

The Mexican office of the United Nations International Organization for Migration released a statement Friday evening saying it was looking for countries where some Haitians have their residence or where their children have citizenship as an alternative to being deported to Haiti.

Luxon, a 31-year-old Haitian who hid his last name out of fear, said he was leaving with his wife and son for Mexicali, about 900 miles west along the Mexico-Mexico border. California.

“The option was to go to a place where there are not a lot of people and ask for documents to be legal in Mexico,” he said.

At the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition in Del Rio on Friday, migrants disembarked from a white border patrol van, smiling a lot and appearing relieved to have been freed in the United States. Some were carrying sleeping babies. A toddler walked behind his mother wrapped in a silver heated blanket.

Information for the article was provided by Maria Verza, Juan Lozano, Sarah Morgan, Ben Fox, Nancy Benac and Jennifer Peltz of the Associated Press and David J. Neal of the Miami Herald.

A Haitian migrant brushes her daughter’s teeth on Saturday at a shelter in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, where authorities have moved migrants who had been evacuated from camps in Mexico and the United States. More photos at arkansasonline.com/926delrio/. (AP / Fernando Llano)


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