Biden administration to accelerate deportation flights for migrants

The Biden administration is implementing a strategy to ramp up deportation flights for migrants in South Texas.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement that it plans to secure additional transportation to “accelerate the pace and increase the capacity of removal flights” to Haiti within the next 72 hours.

News of the flights was first reported by The Associated Press, citing a source with direct knowledge of the plans.

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It was unclear from DHS’s statement how many flights would occur per day.

One official told the AP that flights number between five and eight per day, while another said they were expecting two flights per day at maximum. Another source told The Washington Post that DHS would start with up to three flights per day, though the person said that plans remained in flux.

The Hill has reached out to DHS for further comment.

The plans come as Haitian migrants have crowded under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, prompting Customs and Border Protection to increase manpower and work with other federal agencies to address the level of migrant encounters.

Haiti has been reeling after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck its southern coast.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expelled 86 Haitian nationals from the U.S. and flew them back to Haiti on Wednesday, prompting backlash from human rights advocates.

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The Biden administration has largely expelled migrants under Title 42, which allows federal agencies to expel migrants for public health reasons. The administration is appealing a federal court ruling to exempt family units from Title 42.

The increased flights are part of a six-part plan to address increased migrant encounters in the Del Rio sector, DHS said. As part of the plan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will surge 400 agents and officers to improve control of the area.

In addition, U.S. Border Patrol will coordinate with ICE and the U.S. Coast Guard to move individuals from Del Rio to other processing locations. About 2,000 migrants were relocated Friday.

DHS further said it is undertaking humanitarian actions with federal, state and local partners to reduce crowding and improve conditions for migrants.