The United States is returning Haitians who have entered the country without permission to their country. The Haitians have set up a camp in a town in Texas near the US border. The operation appears to be the start of what could be the biggest eviction of migrants or refugees for many years.
US authorities are seeking to deport many of the more than 12,000 migrants who camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. They entered the United States after crossing the Rio Grande River from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
More than 320 migrants arrived in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, on three flights on Sunday. Haiti said six flights were expected Tuesday. The United States plans to start seven deportation flights a day on Wednesday, said a US official who has not been authorized to discuss the situation publicly. Flights will continue to depart from San Antonio. Officials can add El Paso, the official said.
Large numbers of Mexicans were also sent home during years of heavy migration, but they were sent overland and not so quickly.
When the border was closed on Sunday, migrants found other means to cross nearby until they were encountered by federal and state law enforcement. An Associated Press reporter saw Haitian migrants still crossing the river to the United States about 1.5 miles east of the previous location. After some time, they were pulled over by horse-drawn border patrol officers and Texas law enforcement officials.
Officers shouted at migrants crossing the river to get out of the water. The hundreds of people who had successfully crossed were seated on the American side of the river. They were sent to the Del Rio camp. Mexican officials in a boat told others trying to cross back to Mexico.
Migrant Charlie Jean had returned from camps in Mexico to seek food for his wife and children.
“We need food for every day. I can do without it, but my kids can’t, ”said Jean. He had lived in Chile for five years before starting the journey north to the United States. It was not known if he had managed to cross and reach the camp.
Mexico said on Sunday it would also start returning Haitians to their homeland. A government official said the flights would come from towns close to the US border and the border with Guatemala, where the largest group remains.
Some migrants from the Del Rio camp said the murder of President Jovenel Moïse scared them to return to the country.
“In Haiti, there is no security,” said Fabricio Jean, a 38-year-old Haitian who arrived in Texas with his wife and two daughters.
Since Friday, 3,300 migrants have already been evacuated from the Del Rio camp. They were taken to planes or detention centers, border patrol chief Raul L. Ortiz said on Sunday. He expected 3,000 of the nearly 12,600 remaining migrants to be deported within a day and aimed for the rest to be gone within a week.
Ortiz said the border patrol was working “around the clock.” He added that the service would “remove individuals from the United States in accordance with our laws and policies.” He spoke at a press conference at the Del Rio Bridge.
The rapid expulsion of Haitians is carried out under rules linked to the coronavirus health crisis. They were put in place during the administration of former President Donald Trump in March 2020. The rules allow immigrants entering the country without permission to be promptly deported from the United States without the ability to seek asylum. President Joe Biden left the order in effect, except for the children found alone.
In Haiti, those arriving on the first flight lined up to receive food, wondering where they would sleep that night.
All received $ 100 and tested for COVID-19, although officials have no plans to put them in quarantine, said an official from the National Migration Office.
Some migrants said they plan to leave Haiti again as soon as possible. Valeria Ternission, 29, said she and her husband wanted to return to Chile with their four-year-old son, where she worked.
“I am really worried, especially for the child,” she said. “I can’t do anything here.”
I am Jonathan Evans.
Juan Lozano, Eric Gay and Elliot Spagat reported this story to the Associated Press. Susan Shand adapted it for Learn English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in this story
migrant -not. a person who goes from one place to another mainly to find work
quarantine – not. the period of time that a person or animal that has a disease or may have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the spread of the disease
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