US accelerates removal of migrants at US-Mexico border
September 19 2021 12:33 AM
A sign that reads is seen at a barricade after the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency shu
A sign that reads is seen at a barricade after the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency shut the Del Rio border crossing amid an influx of migrants.

Reuters/AFP/ Ciudad Acuna, Mexico

US authorities moved some 2,000 people to other immigration processing stations on Friday from a Texas border town that has seen an influx of Haitian and other migrants, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said yesterday.
Such transfers will continue “in order to ensure that irregular migrants are swiftly taken into custody, processed, and removed from the United States consistent with our laws and policy”, the DHS said in a statement.
While some of those seeking jobs and safety have been making their way to the United States for weeks or months, it is only in recent days that the number converging on Del Rio, Texas, has drawn widespread attention, posing a humanitarian and political challenge for the Biden administration.
The DHS said that in response to the more than 10,000 migrants sheltering under the Del Rio International Bridge that connects the city with Ciudad Acuña in Mexico, it was accelerating flights to Haiti and other destinations within the next 72 hours.
It said it was working with nations where the migrants began their journeys – for many of the Haitians, countries such as Brazil and Chile – to accept returned migrants.
And it said US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was sending 400 additional agents to the Del Rio sector in the coming days, after the border agency said on Friday that due to the influx it was temporarily closing the city’s port of entry and re-routing traffic to Eagle Pass, 57 miles (92km) east.
“We have reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” a DHS spokesperson told Reuters.
The CBP has been overwhelmed by the number of migrants crossing the border from Mexico seeking admittance to the United States, as well as an influx of migrants from Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of that country.
Political pressure had mounted on Biden to address the issue of immigration, with both Republicans and his fellow Democrats calling for quick action.
As it became clear US authorities were sending migrants back to homelands beyond Mexico, Mexican police officers began asking migrants who were buying food in Ciudad Acuña to return to the United States side of the river yesterday morning, witnesses told Reuters.
The migrants argued that they needed supplies, and police eventually relented.
On the Texas side, Haitians have been joined by Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans sheltering in squalid conditions under the Del Rio bridge.
Officials on both sides of the US-Mexico border said the majority of the migrants were Haitians.
Typically migrants who arrive at the border and turn themselves in to officials can claim asylum if they fear being returned to their home country, triggering a long court process.
The Trump administration enacted a series of policies to whittle away at those protections, arguing that many asylum claims were false.
A sweeping US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health order known as Title 42, issued under the Trump administration at the beginning of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, allows most migrants to be quickly expelled without a chance of claiming asylum.
Biden has kept that rule in place though he exempted unaccompanied minors and has not been expelling most families.
A judge ruled the policy could not be applied to families on Thursday, but the ruling does not go into effect for two weeks and the Biden administration is appealing it in court.
An en masse expulsion of Haitians at Del Rio is sure to anger immigration advocates who say that such returns are inhumane considering the conditions in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
In July, the president was assassinated, and in August a major earthquake and powerful storm hit the country.
The Biden administration extended deportation relief to around 150,000 Haitians in the United States with Temporary Protected Status earlier this year.
That programme does not apply to new arrivals.
Deportation and expulsion differ technically – expulsion is much quicker. US officials briefly halted removals to Haiti following the August 14 earthquake.

Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande to get food and supplies near the Del Rio-Acunna Port of Entry in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico.

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