The United States closes part of the border with Texas and begins flying Haitians home

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A Mexican police officer on the Mexican side of the border said migrants will no longer be able to cross. I would not give his name. But an Associated Press reporter saw Haitian immigrants still crossing the river into the U.S. about 1.5 miles east of the previous site.

Several hundred were sitting on the banks of the river, on the side of the United States, from 50 to 60 at the same time as they made the crossing to and from Mexico by water to the waist. There were a few U.S. officers watching the crossings, but they didn’t take any action to stop them.

Many of the immigrants have been living in Latin America for years, but are now seeking asylum in the United States as economic opportunities in Brazil and elsewhere run out. Thousands live under and near a bridge in Del Rio.

Meanwhile, the United States sent three flights of Haitians taken from Del Rio to their homeland, and that number is expected to reach a minimum of six a day soon, according to a U.S. government official who he spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The planes were leaving San Antonio and were expected to arrive in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, on Sunday afternoon.

A large number of buses arrived in Del Rio on Sunday and “many, many more” are transporting Haitians on expulsion flights, U.S. immigration detention centers and Patrol custody facilities. Border. Departure cities for flights to Haiti have not yet been finalized and are being “actively planned,” the official said.

The blockade and deportations were a quick response to the sudden arrival of Haitians in Del Rio, a city in Texas, with about 35,000 people about 230 miles west of San Antonio. It is located in a relatively remote stretch of border that does not have the capacity to contain and process such a large number of people.

The first plane arrived at Port-au-Prince airport on Sunday afternoon. Families held children by the hand or carried them as they left, and some deportees covered their heads as they boarded a large bus parked next to the plane.

A dozen officials from various Haitian government agencies gathered to meet with the deported Haitians. Public security officials from the Ministry of Justice requested the presence of the Haitian national police to prevent any possible violence.

An International Migration Organization minibus was also hung at the airport. It was filled with brightly colored bags containing toiletries, hand sanitizer, and hair ties.

All the deportees have been subjected to Covid-19 screening tests and authorities have no plans to quarantine them, Marie-Lourde Jean-Charles told the National Migration Office.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry wrote on Sunday on Twitter that he was concerned about border camp conditions and that migrants would be received again.

“We want to assure them that measures have already been taken to give them a better reception when they return to the country and that they will not be left behind,” he tweeted. Henry did not provide details about the measures. A Haitian government spokesman could not be contacted immediately for comment.

But another Haitian political leader on Sunday asked if the nation could handle an influx of returning migrants and said the government should stop 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, who added that most Haitians cannot meet basic needs.” The Prime Minister should negotiate with the U.S. government to stop these deportations at this time of crisis. “

Some of the immigrants in the Del Rio camp said the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse frighten them back into a country that seems more unstable than when they left.

“There is no security in Haiti,” said Fabricio Jean, a 38-year-old Haitian who came to Texas with his wife and two daughters. “The country is in a political crisis.”

A lot of people crossed the Rio Grande on Saturday and re-entered Mexico to buy water, food and diapers in Ciudad Acuña before returning to the Texas camp. With this route now blocked, that area of ​​the Mexican city was already deserted, but Haitians could be found near their new crossing point.

The migrant Charlie Jean had crossed again in Ciudad Acuña to look for food for his wife and three daughters, aged 2, 5 and 12. He was waiting for a restaurant to bring him an order of rice.

“We need food for every day. I can leave without it, but my children can’t, ”said Jean, who had lived in Chile for five years before starting the trip to the United States.

Haitians have been migrating to the United States in large numbers from South America for several years, many of whom have left their Caribbean nation after a devastating 2010 earthquake. In the summer of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, many made the dangerous walk, bus and car walk to the American border, even through the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian jungle.

Crowd estimates varied, but Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano said Saturday evening there were more than 14,500 immigrants in the camp under the bridge. Migrants set up tents and built makeshift shelters out of giant reeds known as reed reeds. Many bathed and washed clothes in the river.

It is unclear how such a large number accumulated so quickly, although many Haitians have gathered in camps on the Mexican side of the border to wait as they decide whether to try to enter the United States.

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