The U.S. will ramp up deportations as part of a multi-step plan to handle a surge of Haitian migrants that has caused the Del Rio Port of Entry in Texas to shut down, the Department of Homeland Security announced Saturday.
More than 10,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, are being held at a makeshift processing site underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
DHS said 400 agents will arrive in Del Rio within the next 24 to 48 hours to “improve control of the area,” while the Coast Guard will also work to take migrants to alternate processing locations and ensure they are removed from the U.S. “consistent with our laws and policy.”
Within the next 72 hours, DHS said it will “accelerate the pace” of deportation flights to Haiti and other countries the migrants previously lived in.
DHS also said emergency medical technicians are on site to care for the migrants, and the agency is supplying water, towels and portable toilets amid concerns over conditions in the crowded area.
“The Biden Administration has reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” DHS said in a statement.
President Joe Biden’s administration had limited its deportation flights to Haiti and extended temporary protected status eligibility for Haitians living in the U.S. amid political unrest in the Caribbean nation, where President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated July 7. An earthquake on August 14 brought further turmoil to the country, with more than 2,000 being killed in the disaster. Many of the migrants now arriving in the U.S. appear to have left the country years ago, though, after another earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital, and had reportedly resided in South American countries like Brazil before making the dangerous trip northward this year to the U.S. border.
Haitian migrants still make up just a small fraction of the overall number of arrests along the border. According to Border Patrol statistics, fewer than 4% of the arrests in August were among Haitians.