The United States launches the mass expulsion of Haitian migrants from Texas

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More than 320 migrants arrived in Port-au-Prince on three flights and Haiti said six flights were expected on Tuesday. In all, U.S. authorities moved to expel many of the more than 12,000 migrants camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.

The only obvious parallel to this expulsion without the opportunity to seek asylum was in 1992, when the Coast Guard intercepted Haitian refugees at sea, said Yael Schacher, a senior U.S. lawyer for Refugees International, the studies whose doctorate focused on the history of U.S. asylum law.

Central Americans have also crossed the border in comparable numbers without being massively expelled, although Mexico has agreed to accept them from the U.S. under pandemic-related authority in effect since March 2020. Mexico does not accept expelled Haitians or people of other nationalities outside Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

When the border closed on Sunday, migrants initially found other ways to cross nearby until they clashed with federal and state law enforcement. An Associated Press reporter saw Haitian immigrants still crossing the river into the United States about 1.5 miles east of the previous site, but were eventually detained by Border Patrol officers on horseback and officers. of the Texas Police.

Officers called for immigrants crossing the river to the waist to get out of the water. The several hundred who had successfully crossed and were sitting by the river, next to the U.S., were ordered to camp at Del Rio. “Go now,” the officers shouted. Mexican authorities on an airship told others they were trying to cross to return to Mexico.

The migrant Charlie Jean had returned to the city of Acuña from the camps to look for food for his wife and three daughters, aged 2, 5 and 12. He was waiting on the Mexican side 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 trek to the northern United States. It was unknown if he returned to camp.

Mexico said Sunday it would also begin deporting Haitians to its homeland. A government official said the flights would come from cities near the U.S. border and on the border with Guatemala, where the largest group remains.

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.

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.”

As of Friday, 3,300 migrants have already been removed from the Del Rio camp to planes or detention centers, Border Patrol Chief Raul L. Ortiz said Sunday. He expected 3,000 of the remaining 12,600 migrants to move in one day and intended for the rest to leave within the week.

“We are working 24 hours a day to move migrants quickly out of the heat, the elements and from under this bridge to our processing facilities to quickly process and eliminate people from the United States agree with our laws and our policies, “Ortiz told a news conference at the Del Rio Bridge. The city of Texas, with about 35,000 people, is about 230 miles west of San Antonio.

The United States expected to double daily flights soon to at least six, according to a U.S. official who was not allowed to discuss the matter publicly. Departure cities were still determined on Sunday.

Six flights to Haiti were scheduled for Tuesday: three in Port-au-Prince and three in the northern city of Cap-Haitien, said Jean Négot Bonheur Delva, Haiti’s migration director.

The rapid expulsions were made possible by a pandemic-related authority adopted by former President Donald Trump in March 2020, which allows migrants to be removed from the country immediately without the opportunity to seek asylum. President Joe Biden exempted unaccompanied children from order, but let the rest hold on.

Haitians who are not deported are subject to immigration laws, which include asylum application rights and other forms of humanitarian protection. Families are quickly released in the United States because the government does not usually have children.

Some people arriving on the first flight covered their heads as they boarded a large bus parked next to the plane. Dozens 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.

They all received $ 100 and COVID-19 tests were done, although authorities had no plans to quarantine them, Marie-Lourde Jean-Charles told the Office for National Migration.

Gary Monplaisir, 26, said his parents and sister live in Port-au-Prince, but he wasn’t sure if he would stay with them because to get home, he, his wife and his 5-year-old daughter would cross a gang-controlled area called Martissant, where the killings are routine.

“I’m scared,” he said. “I have no plan.”

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 for his wife and daughter to join him. They tried to get to the United States because they thought they could get a better paying job and help their family in Haiti.

“We’re always looking for better opportunities,” he said.

Some migrants said they planned to leave Haiti again as soon as possible. Valeria Ternission, 29, said she and her husband want to travel with their four-year-old son to Chile, where she worked as a bakery cashier.

“I’m really worried, especially about the kid,” she said. “There’s nothing I can do here.”


Lozano reported from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Sanon from Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Spagat from San Diego. Associated Press writers Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Maria Verza in Mexico City also contributed to this report.


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