Just under a week after almost 15,000 people set up a migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas, the town’s mayor announced Friday that no migrants were left. Mayor Buno Lozano called the update “phenomenal news” at a Friday news conference.
The migrant camp was full of people, mostly Haitian, seeking asylum in the United States. However, many of those Haitians face expulsion because they are not covered by protections that were recently extended due to security concerns and social unrest in Haiti. The country has seen the assassination of its president and a massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the last few months alone.
Homeland Security has said nearly 2,000 Haitians who were at the migrant camp have been expelled on 17 flights since Sunday. A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press seven flights were scheduled to leave for Haiti on Friday, six on Saturday and seven on Sunday. The official was not authorized to speak publicly.
In a Friday update, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said an immigration judge will hear the asylum cases of about 12,400 people who were at the migrant camp. Some have been released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court or to report to immigration authorities. DHS officials declined to specify the number released.
However they did say those released are people with particular “vulnerabilities”. This could mean they are pregnant, they have young children, or the U.S. doesn’t have the capacity to hold them in detention.
At the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition in Del Rio, migrants stepped off a white Border Patrol van on Friday. Many were smiling, and they appeared to be relieved to be released.
It was a much different story earlier this week at the migrant camp. There was widespread outrage after images of border agents maneuvering their horses to forcibly block and move migrants went viral.
President Joe Biden commented on those images Friday, saying the way the agents used their horses was “horrible” and that “people will pay”.
“There will be consequences,” Biden told reporters. “It’s an embarrassment, but it’s beyond an embarrassment — it’s dangerous, it’s wrong, it sends the wrong message around the world and sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are.”
The agents have been assigned to administrative duties while the administration investigates.