Even as more than 1,000 Haitian migrants were deported between Sunday and Tuesday, thousands of others are being allowed into the United States, sometimes to request asylum — and are being released with instructions to report to immigration officials at a future date.
The Biden administration responded to an unusually large number of Haitians crossing into Texas at Del Rio late last week with high-profile repatriation flight plans. Officials hope this will discourage others from coming here. According to an unnamed official who knew the plans and was not allowed to speak publicly about the matter, there are five flights scheduled for Wednesday.
Last week, Border Patrol agents in Del Rio were overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of thousands upon thousands of Haitian migrants. One point saw 15,000 people crammed under and around bridges in poor conditions as they waited for border officials to interview them briefly. To relieve the overcrowding, the administration has flown many of the migrants to less crowded spots on the southern border; most are being released from Border Patrol custody with a “Notice to Appear” order, which formally enters them into the immigration court system for a deportation hearing — often years away.
The Homeland Security Department and Customs and Border Protection did not answer Wednesday’s question about the number of migrants who are allowed to enter the country from Del Rio and the numbers being deported.
To deport migrants being flown back from Haiti, the Biden administration uses an emergency rule that was put in place by the Trump administration. The Trump administration sought to maintain the rule. Critics say it is more about stopping the spread of Covid-19 than keeping migrants out of the country. There are many reasons why the rule may not be enforced at all across the border. Immigration advocates claim this is creating confusion for migrants trying to enter the United States.
The chaotic response to the recent spike in illegal migration across the border appears to have been chaotic. The Homeland Security Department is investigating allegations of mistreatment of migrants. The Haitian government asked for a temporary deportation moratorium from the United States to address concerns that the country cannot cope with the number of Haitians being sent home.
Joselyne SIMEUS, a native Haitian, crossed the Rio Grande to enter the country illegally with her 5-year old son. They were joining thousands of migrants waiting under the bridge. She claimed asylum and called herself “lucky,” because she and her son were not forced to immediately return to Haiti but instead planned to travel to Florida to stay with family.
Border Patrol to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are transporting many of the migrants to a center to be fed and interviewed. According to an official familiar with the matter, some of the asylum seekers are being released with tracking devices attached to their ankles.
ICE was also able to assist with processing during the surge in migrants in Rio Grande Valley at the end July and beginning of August.
Edgar Sandoval contributed reporting from Del Rio, Texas.