US closes part of Texas border, begins sending Haitians home

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The first three planes departed San Antonio for Port-au-Prince on Sunday, the first arriving in the afternoon

The United States on Sunday took action to halt the flow of migrants into Texas by blocking the Mexican border in an isolated city, where thousands of Haitian refugees set up a camp, and US officials began sending some migrants back to their homeland. done.

About a dozen Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles are parked near the bridge and river where Haitians have been crossing from Ciudad Acua, Mexico to Del Rio, Texas, for nearly three weeks.

Migrants initially looked for other ways to cross around until they were confronted by federal and state law enforcement. One The Associated Press Reporters noticed that Haitian immigrants were still crossing the river about 2.4 km east of the previous location, but were eventually stopped by Border Patrol agents and Texas law enforcement officers on horseback.

As they were crossing, some Haitians carried boxes on their heads filled with food. Some took off their pants before landing in the river and took them away. Others were not worried about getting wet.

The agents shouted at the migrants crossing the river till their waist to get out of the water. Several hundred who had successfully crossed and sat along the river on the American side were ordered to move to the Del Rio camp.

“Go now,” shouted the agent. Mexican officials in an airboat told others they were trying to cross to return to Mexico.

Migrant Charlie Jean had moved back from the camps to Ciudad Acua to obtain food for his wife and three daughters aged 2, 5 and 12. He was waiting to bring an order of rice to a restaurant on the Mexican side.

“We need food for every day. I can go without, but my kids can’t,” said Jean, who had been living in Chile for five years before starting the trek north to the Americas. It was unknown if he crossed it back and to the camp.

Mexico said on Sunday that it would also begin sending Haitians to their homeland. A government official said the flights would be from cities near the US border and the border with Guatemala, where the largest group lives.

Haitians have been migrating to the US in large numbers from South America for many years, with many leaving their Caribbean nation after the devastating 2010 earthquake. After jobs were eliminated from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many people made the dangerous trek by foot, bus and car to the US border, including the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian wilderness.

Some migrants from the Del Rio camp said the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Mosse made them afraid to return to a country that seems more volatile than they left.

“In Haiti, there is no security,” said Fabrisio Jean, a 38-year-old Haitian who arrived in Texas with his wife and two daughters. “The country is in a political crisis.” Border Patrol chief Raul El Ortiz said on Sunday that 3,300 migrants have already been removed from the Del Rio camp on planes or in detention centers, and he expects 3,000 of the remaining 12,600 migrants to be transferred within a day Will go The rest should be gone within weeks, he said.

The first three planes departed San Antonio for Port-au-Prince on Sunday, with the first arriving in the afternoon.

“We are working round-the-clock to rapidly move migrants from the heat, the elements and under this bridge to our processing facilities to quickly process and remove individuals from the United States in line with our laws and our policies. ,” Mr. Ortiz said at the news conference at the Del Rio Bridge. The rapid removal was made possible by a pandemic-related authorization adopted by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 that allows migrants to be removed immediately from the country without the opportunity to seek asylum. President Joe Biden exempted unaccompanied children from the order but allowed the rest to stand.

Any Haitians not expelled are subject to immigration laws, including the right to seek asylum and other forms of humanitarian protection. Families in the US are released early because the government usually cannot keep children.

Meanwhile in Haiti, three flights landed at Port-au-Prince airport, each carrying 145 people.

Families who arrived on the first flight held the children by the hand or carried them on exit, and some of the 145 deportees covered their heads as they boarded a large bus parked next to the plane. . Dozens of people lined up to receive a plate of rice, beans, chicken and bananas as they wondered where they would sleep and how they would earn money to support their families.

All deportees were given $100 and tested for COVID-19, although officials were not planning to put them in quarantine, Marie-Lourde Jean-Charles said with the National Migration Office.

Gary Monplassir, 26, said that his parents and sister live in Port-au-Prince, but he was not sure if he would live with them as he, his wife and their five-year-old daughter had to travel to their home. Will have to cross Gang controlled areas where killings are regular.

“I’m scared,” he said. “I have no plans.” He moved to Chile in 2017 just as he was about to earn an accounting degree to work as a tow truck driver. He later paid his wife and daughter to join him. He tried to immigrate to America because he felt he could get a better paying job and help his family in Haiti.

Some migrants said they plan to leave Haiti again as soon as possible.

A Haitian political leader questioned on Sunday whether the nation could handle the influx of returning migrants and said the government should stop the repatriation.

“We have the situation in the south with the earthquake. The economy is a disaster, (and) there are no jobs,” said election minister Mathias Pierre, adding that most Haitians cannot meet basic needs. “The prime minister should be negotiating with the US government to stop those deportations in this moment of crisis.”



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