Part of Texas border closed where thousands of Haitians crossed

Part of Texas border closed where thousands of Haitians crossed
© Scott Wong

The United States closed off a stretch of the Mexican border where thousands of Haitian migrants have been crossing between Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, and Del Rio, Texas, according to The Associated Press.

Thousands of migrants are currently living in squalid conditions under a bridge in Del Rio, where temperatures are often near 100 degrees. For three weeks, they had been crossing the river into Mexico for food and other supplies before returning to the camp in Texas. 

But Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles lined up to block the bridge and river this weekend, and officials taped off a dam that had been used for crossing the river, according to the AP. 

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The U.S. has sent at least three flights of migrants back to Haiti, and an official, who spoke anonymously to the AP, added that the number will soon increase to six daily flights. 

Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano estimated on Saturday that more than 14,500 immigrants were living in tents under the bridge and bathing in the river, the AP reported. 

Migrant advocates and some Democrats in Congress have blasted the Biden administration for returning Haitian migrants to a country recovering from a massive earthquake and in the midst of a political crisis following the assassination of its president. 

However, Haitian officials such as Prime Minister Ariel Henry are prepared to welcome the migrants back to Haiti. In a tweet voicing concern for the conditions at the border camp, Henry assured migrants they would be welcomed home. 

"We want to reassure them that measures have already been taken to give them a better welcome upon their return to the country and that they will not be left behind," his tweet said. 

Others such as Election Minister Mathias Pierre have argued that Haiti is not prepared for the return of so many migrants. 

"We have the situation in the south with the earthquake. The economy is a disaster, (and) there are no jobs," he said, according to the AP. "The prime minister should negotiate with the U.S. government to stop those deportations in this moment of crises."

Since the catastrophic earthquake that struck the country in 2010, Haitians have immigrated to the U.S. in droves. As of 2018, the U.S. was the top global destination for Haitian migrants, according to the Migration Policy Institute