Thousands of Haitian migrants converge on Texas border town

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) – Thousands of Haitian migrants have gathered under and around a bridge in a small town on the Texas border, presenting the Biden administration with an immediate new challenge as it attempts to manage a large number of asylum seekers who have reached American soil.

The footage showed Haitians crossing the Rio Grande in large groups and gathering under a bridge in Del Rio, a city of 35,000 that has been severely strained by the influx of migrants in recent months. The estimates were as high as 8,000 to 10,000.

Haitians have migrated to the United States in large numbers from South America for several years, many of them leaving the Caribbean nation after a devastating earthquake in 2010. After jobs have since dried up The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made the trek, bus and car ride to the US border, including through the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian jungle.

It is unclear how so many amassed so quickly, although many Haitians have gathered in camps on the Mexican side of the border, including in Tijuana, across from San Diego, to wait before deciding. whether or not to attempt to enter the United States.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

U.S. authorities are under strain after President Joe Biden quickly dismantled Trump administration policies Biden considered cruel or inhumane, including requiring asylum seekers to stay in Mexico pending court hearings American Immigration. These migrants have been exposed to extreme violence in Mexico and have encountered extraordinary difficulties in finding lawyers.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a judge’s order to restore the policy to stand, although Mexico must agree to its terms. The Justice Department said in a court file this week that discussions with the Mexican government were ongoing.

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

The US government has been unable to deport many families from Central America because Mexican authorities have largely refused to accept them in Tamaulipas state, located across the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the most frequented for illegal crossings. A federal judge in Washington on Thursday barred the administration from applying Title 42, as the authority related to the pandemic is known, to all families.

Mexico has agreed to only accept families deported from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, creating an opening for Haitians and other nationalities as the United States does not have the necessary resources. to detain and expel them quickly on flights to their country of origin.

In August, US authorities arrested migrants nearly 209,000 times at the border, which was near a 20-year high, even though many stops involved repeat transgressors as there are no legal consequences to be deported under the authority of Title 42.

People crossing as a family were arrested 86,487 times in August, but less than one in five encounters resulted in a Title 42 deportation. The rest were treated under immigration laws. usually means they were released with a court date or notice. report to immigration authorities.

US authorities arrested Haitians 7,580 times in August, a figure that has increased every month since August 2020, when they have arrested only 55. There has also been a significant increase in the number of Ecuadorians, Venezuelans and other nationalities outside the traditional countries of origin of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. and El Salvador.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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