Migrants Under Bridge

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Thousands of Haitian migrants converge at small border town in Texas

By Taylor Knight (Socia Media Reporter), Mahmoud Bennett (Editor )

A new border crisis is forming in the small border town of Del Rio, Texas across from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico on Friday.

An estimated 12,000 migrants, mostly Haitian, are waiting to ask for asylum in the U.S.

Thousands of Haitian migrants have assembled under and around a bridge, and presented the Biden administration with a new challenge as it tries to manage large numbers of asylum-seekers who have been reaching U.S. soil.

Haitians crossed the Rio Grande freely and in a steady stream, going back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico through knee-deep water with some parents carrying small children on their shoulders. Unable to buy supplies in the U.S., they returned briefly to Mexico for food and cardboard to settle, temporarily at least, under or near the bridge in Del Rio, a city of 35,000 that has been severely strained by migrant flows in recent months.

Migrants pitched tents and built makeshift shelters from giant reeds known as carrizo cane. Many bathed and washed clothing in the river.

The vast majority at the bridge on Friday were Haitian, said Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens, who is the county’s top elected official and whose jurisdiction includes Del Rio. Some families have been under the bridge for as long as six days.

Trash piles were 10 feet (3.1 meters) wide and at least two women have given birth, including one who tested positive for COVID-19 after being taken to a hospital, Owens said.

Haitians have been migrating to the U.S. in large numbers from South America for several years, many of them having left the Caribbean nation after the devastating earthquake in 2010. After jobs dried up from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made the dangerous trek by foot, bus and car to the U.S. border, including through the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian jungle.

It is unclear how such a large number amassed so quickly. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on MSNBC, “We will address it accordingly.”

The Federal Aviation Administration, acting on a Border Patrol request, restricted drone flights around the bridge until Sept. 30, generally barring operations at or below 1,000 feet (305 meters) unless for security or law enforcement purposes.

U.S. authorities are being severely tested after President Joe Biden quickly dismantled Trump administration policies that Biden considered cruel or inhumane, most notably one requiring asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting for U.S. immigration court hearings. Such migrants have been exposed to extreme violence in Mexico and faced extraordinary difficulty in finding attorneys.

The U.S Supreme Court last month let stand a judge’s order to reinstate the policy, though Mexico must agree to its terms. The Justice Department said in a court filing this week that discussions with the Mexican government were ongoing.

A pandemic-related order to immediately expel migrants without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum that was introduced in March 2020 remains in effect, but unaccompanied children and many families have been exempt. During his first month in office, Biden chose to exempt children traveling alone on humanitarian grounds.

The U.S. government has been unable to expel many Central American families because Mexican authorities have largely refused to accept them in the state of Tamaulipas, which is across from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington blocked the administration from applying Title 42, as the pandemic-related authority is known, to any families.

Mexico has agreed to take expelled families only from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, creating an opening for Haitians and other nationalities because the U.S. lacks the resources to detain and quickly expel them on flights to their homelands.

In August, U.S. authorities stopped migrants nearly 209,000 times at the border, which was close to a 20-year high even though many of the stops involved repeat crossers because there are no legal consequences for being expelled under Title 42 authority.

People crossing in families were stopped 86,487 times in August, but fewer than one out of every five of those encounters resulted in expulsion under Title 42. The rest were processed under immigration laws, which typically means they were released with a court date or a notice to report to immigration authorities.

U.S. authorities stopped Haitians 7,580 times in August, a figure that has increased every month since August 2020, when they stopped only 55. There have also been major increases of Ecuadorians, Venezuelans and other nationalities outside the traditional sending countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Immigration judges have decided more than 32,000 cases of Haitians seeking asylum since 2001, rejecting the petitions about 80% of the time, according to data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

___

Spagat reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Paul Weber in Austin, Ben Fox in Washington, David Koenig in Dallas and Maria Verza in Mexico City contributed to this report.

 

TAYLOR KNIGHT:

A NEW MIGRANT CRISIS IS FORMING UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE THAT CONNECTS DEL RIO, TEXAS AND MEXICO.    

A REPORTED TEN THOUSAND MIGRANTS, MOSTLY HAITIAN – FIND THEMSELVES IN NO-MAN’S LAND – WITH A SHORTAGE OF FOOD AND WATER AMID RISING TEMPERATURES – CLOSE TO 100 DEGREES.

AS THEY WAIT FOR THE US TO OPEN A CROSSING, THEY WADE THROUGH THE RIO GRANDE RIVER, BACK AND FORTH INTO MEXICO TO STOCK UP ON ESSENTIALS. 

THOSE ON BOTH THE LEFT AND RIGHT OF THE POLITICAL AISLE ARE SHOCKED BY WHAT THEY SEE.

TED CRUZ: THEY TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY. IT GOES ON AND ON AND ON.. INFANTS, LITTLE CHILDREN, PEOPLE STRUGGLING ENORMOUSLY.

BRUNO LOZANO: 

WHAT YOU SEE BEHIND ME ARE INDIVIDUALS HAVE NOT EVEN BEEN PROCESSED OR DETAINED. THESE PEOPLE ARE JUST WAITING TO BE DETAINED. 

TAYLOR KNIGHT: 

THAT WAS THE DEMOCRATIC MAYOR OF DEL RIO – A BILINGUAL BORDER CITY THAT VOTED MOSTLY FOR TRUMP IN 2020. SOME RESIDENTS THERE SAY THEY FEEL ABANDONED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ON BORDER SECURITY. 

MEANWHILE, MORE IMAGES FLOOD SOCIAL MEDIA. 

CLOTHES, LAID OUT ON THE GROUND TO DRY.  

 MIGRANTS CRISSCROSSING THE RIO GRANDE.

REUTERS’S PHOTOGRAPHER ALEXANDRA ULMER SHARES SOME OF HER PHOTOS ON TWITTER. 

IN ONE SHOT YOU CAN SEE A TICKET THEY’RE GIVEN WHEN THEY ARRIVE.  FOR MANY IT SEEMS LIKE A TICKET TO NOWHERE.

ANOTHER OF HER SHOTS, SHOWS MIGRANTS WAITING NEAR THE NOW INFAMOUS INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE.

WHO DO YOU THINK – IF ANYONE – IS TO BLAME FOR THE CRISIS.

LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

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A new border crisis is forming in the small border town of Del Rio, Texas across from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico on Friday.

An estimated 12,000 migrants, mostly Haitian, are waiting to ask for asylum in the U.S.

Thousands of Haitian migrants have assembled under and around a bridge, and presented the Biden administration with a new challenge as it tries to manage large numbers of asylum-seekers who have been reaching U.S. soil.

Haitians crossed the Rio Grande freely and in a steady stream, going back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico through knee-deep water with some parents carrying small children on their shoulders. Unable to buy supplies in the U.S., they returned briefly to Mexico for food and cardboard to settle, temporarily at least, under or near the bridge in Del Rio, a city of 35,000 that has been severely strained by migrant flows in recent months.

Migrants pitched tents and built makeshift shelters from giant reeds known as carrizo cane. Many bathed and washed clothing in the river.

The vast majority at the bridge on Friday were Haitian, said Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens, who is the county’s top elected official and whose jurisdiction includes Del Rio. Some families have been under the bridge for as long as six days.

Trash piles were 10 feet (3.1 meters) wide and at least two women have given birth, including one who tested positive for COVID-19 after being taken to a hospital, Owens said.

Haitians have been migrating to the U.S. in large numbers from South America for several years, many of them having left the Caribbean nation after the devastating earthquake in 2010. After jobs dried up from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made the dangerous trek by foot, bus and car to the U.S. border, including through the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian jungle.

It is unclear how such a large number amassed so quickly. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on MSNBC, “We will address it accordingly.”

The Federal Aviation Administration, acting on a Border Patrol request, restricted drone flights around the bridge until Sept. 30, generally barring operations at or below 1,000 feet (305 meters) unless for security or law enforcement purposes.

U.S. authorities are being severely tested after President Joe Biden quickly dismantled Trump administration policies that Biden considered cruel or inhumane, most notably one requiring asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting for U.S. immigration court hearings. Such migrants have been exposed to extreme violence in Mexico and faced extraordinary difficulty in finding attorneys.

The U.S Supreme Court last month let stand a judge’s order to reinstate the policy, though Mexico must agree to its terms. The Justice Department said in a court filing this week that discussions with the Mexican government were ongoing.

A pandemic-related order to immediately expel migrants without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum that was introduced in March 2020 remains in effect, but unaccompanied children and many families have been exempt. During his first month in office, Biden chose to exempt children traveling alone on humanitarian grounds.

The U.S. government has been unable to expel many Central American families because Mexican authorities have largely refused to accept them in the state of Tamaulipas, which is across from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington blocked the administration from applying Title 42, as the pandemic-related authority is known, to any families.

Mexico has agreed to take expelled families only from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, creating an opening for Haitians and other nationalities because the U.S. lacks the resources to detain and quickly expel them on flights to their homelands.

In August, U.S. authorities stopped migrants nearly 209,000 times at the border, which was close to a 20-year high even though many of the stops involved repeat crossers because there are no legal consequences for being expelled under Title 42 authority.

People crossing in families were stopped 86,487 times in August, but fewer than one out of every five of those encounters resulted in expulsion under Title 42. The rest were processed under immigration laws, which typically means they were released with a court date or a notice to report to immigration authorities.

U.S. authorities stopped Haitians 7,580 times in August, a figure that has increased every month since August 2020, when they stopped only 55. There have also been major increases of Ecuadorians, Venezuelans and other nationalities outside the traditional sending countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Immigration judges have decided more than 32,000 cases of Haitians seeking asylum since 2001, rejecting the petitions about 80% of the time, according to data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

___

Spagat reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Paul Weber in Austin, Ben Fox in Washington, David Koenig in Dallas and Maria Verza in Mexico City contributed to this report.

 

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