“They took my leader, they took my house, now we shall go to the promised land. We shall go to Texas,” Jean Baptiste, an undocumented refugee said before crossing the river into the United States. As hundreds remained camping beneath and around a bridge in Del Rio, a rural Texas community, Haitian migrants trying to flee poverty and hunger in their native country said they would not be discouraged by US intentions to send them back.
The US started deportation flights on Sunday. Three planes from San Antonio had departed for Port-au-Prince, according to an official. At Del Rio, the US likewise shut down the border.
A dozen state cars from Texas stood up near the bridge and river where Haitians have been crossing from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, for almost three weeks. A tiny dam used to walk into the United States was blocked with yellow police tape.
Migrants would not be permitted to pass, according to a Mexican policeman. Despite the fact that a reporter from the Associated Press observed Haitian migrants crossing close, they were quickly halted by US border patrol officers on horseback and Texas law enforcement authorities.
On their heads were several Haitians carrying food cartons. Those in the waist-deep river were yelled at by agents to get out. Hundreds of people who had crossed the river and were sitting on the US side of the river were sent to the Del Rio camp.
Agents said, “Go now!” Others were ordered to return by Mexican officials aboard an airboat.
Charlie Jean, a migrant, returned to Ciudad Acuna to purchase food for his wife and three children, ages two, five, and twelve. He was anticipating a delivery of rice from a restaurant.
“Each day, we require food. “I can live without it, but my kids can’t,” Jean said, adding that he had lived in Chile for five years before making the journey north. He may have made it back to camp, but no one knew for sure.
Mexico has also announced that it will begin deporting Haitians back to their home country. Flights will depart from cities near the US border and the Guatemalan border, where the majority of Haitians still reside, according to a government official. Many of the migrants have been living in Latin America for years, but are now seeking refuge in the United States as their economic prospects dwindle.
According to a federal official, the number of US planes returning migrants to Haiti would be at least six each day. On Sunday, Del Rio received a significant number of buses. “Many, many more” were expected to arrive to transport Haitians to deportation flights, immigration detention centers, and border patrol facilities, according to the source. The official stated that departure cities for flights to Haiti were “actively planned.”
A dozen officials from Haiti’s government institutions convened at the Port-au-Prince airport on Sunday. Police were summoned by public safety authorities. At the airport, there was also a van from the International Organization for Migration. Toiletries, hand sanitizer, and hair ties were among the items in the bags.
Hundreds of migrants crossed the Rio Grande near Del Rio on Saturday, reentering Mexico to buy water, food, and diapers. Estimates of the number of migrants in the camp fluctuated, but Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano stated on Saturday evening that there were 14,534. Many people set up tents and improvised shelters out of carrizo cane, a huge reed. Others used the river to bathe and wash clothes.
It’s unknown how such a huge number could have accumulated in such a short period of time. According to a US source, the number of Haitian arrivals at Del Rio started to approach unsustainable levels two weeks ago, leading the acting border patrol sector commander, Robert Garcia, to request assistance.
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