According to the Associated Press (AP), many Haitian migrants in Del Rio are being released into the United States. AP spoke with two U.S. officials who were not authorized to discuss the matter and thus spoke on condition of anonymity.
One of the officials said Haitians have been released on a “very, very large scale” in recent days. The official put the figure in the thousands, however AP has not been able to confirm it. And as of early Wednesday, the specific number of Haitian migrants being processed had not been released.
The Haitian migrants who have been released have notices to appear at an immigration office within 60 days.
Mackenson Veillard was one of the Haitian migrants processed and released on Monday. He and his wife are expecting their first child in two months. “I felt so stressed,” Veillard said. “But now, I feel better. It’s like I’m starting a new life.”
The releases come despite a massive effort to expel Haitians on flights under pandemic-related authority that denies migrants a chance to seek asylum.
The system is a “black box,” said Wade McMullen, an attorney with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, who was in Del Rio. “Right now, we have no official access to understand what processes are under way, what protections are being provided for the migrants.”
Accounts of wide-scale releases — some observed at the Del Rio bus station by Associated Press journalists — are at odds with statements Monday by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who traveled to Del Rio to promise swift action.
“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned, your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life,” he said at a news conference.
Homeland Security, asked to comment on releases in the United States, said Wednesday that migrants who are not immediately expelled to Haiti may be detained or released with a notice to appear in immigration court or report to an immigration office, depending on available custody space.
“The Biden Administration has reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” the department said in a statement. “Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion.”
Meanwhile, Mexico has begun busing and flying Haitian migrants away from the U.S. border, signaling a new level of support for the United States as the camp presented President Joe Biden with a humanitarian and political challenge.