Thousands of migrants gathered under a bridge outside the Del Rio border community on Thursday, part of a large influx of migrants to the Rio Grande this week that overwhelmed authorities and forced them to process arrivals. cause significant delays.
The US border patrol said more than 9,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, were being held in a temporary housing area under the Del Rio International Bridge as agents worked to process them as quickly as possible.
The makeshift camps have grown tremendously in recent times, only a few hundred people a week. City officials and officials said they hoped to cross the ankle-deep river between Mexico and Del Rio in the coming days.
The border patrol said they would send more agents to the area “to urgently deal with the current state of encounters with migrants and allow for a safe, humane and orderly process”. The shaded area under the bridge, the border patrol said, is designed to “prevent injuries from heat-related illnesses” while the migrants await detention.
Scenes – roughly triple digit heat amidst a dense crowd, sleeping on the ground or worsening, condemned by local authorities. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered state police and the National Guard to assist border officials in Del Rio, saying the federal response was not enough to stop the increase in border crossings.
Recalling President Biden’s decision to end America’s longest war, he said: “The Biden administration is a total mess and handling the border crisis is as bad as handling the evacuation of Afghanistan.”
The southwest border has been inundated in recent months, and for more than two decades without an increase in unauthorized border crossings. More than 200,000 people made it through last month, bringing more than 1.5 million this fiscal year.
But in recent days, the swelling crowds in Del Rio, a city about 250 miles west of San Antonio surrounded by farmland, thorny shrubs, and giant mesquite trees, have created new challenges for humanity. has been given.
Mayor Bruno Lozano described the dilapidated conditions under the bridge on Thursday as a poor town with little access to clean water and food and only a few portable toilets. Local officials said most of the new arrivals appeared to have left Haiti, the Caribbean nation still grappling with a series of natural disasters and the July assassination of President Joven Mose.
“9,000 people are really worried and stressed out,” said Lozano, who urged the federal government to support the city of 35,000.
The Del Rio border area has seen heavy traffic of migrants this year, especially from Haiti, who have arrived in much larger numbers since June, when illegal border crossings doubled compared to the previous month. caught. And according to the latest statistics on the border, their numbers continue to grow in July and August.
Earlier this week, more Haitians were caught trying to cross the Del Rio area, an abandoned 245-mile stretch of the US border with Mexico. According to an official familiar with the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Interior Ministry sent additional staff to the area on Thursday to facilitate security as the person would not speak publicly about the matter. not authorized.
The government also plans to relocate some of the migrants to other parts of the border that are not experiencing a boom, such as Del Rio. Flights back to Haiti are scheduled to start on Monday. Biden’s government hopes to signal other Haitians not to try to cross the southern border.
The government has come under heavy pressure from Republicans to tackle the border. In recent months, Abbott has ordered state law enforcement agencies to arrest migrants for trespassing to prevent illegal immigration because the Biden administration failed to do so.
While the Biden administration debated repealing Trump-era public health rules that barred many asylum seekers from entering the country at the start of the pandemic, the administration eventually backed out due to the large number of migrants crossing the south. Plan closed. Borders are also illegal and the coronavirus has revived in recent months.
But on Thursday, a Texas judge ordered the government to stop denying migrant families as part of public health regulations starting 14 days later. For humanitarian exceptions and other reasons, the government only rejected a few families who were arrested on the southern border. In August, he used public health measures to prevent about 18% of households from crossing the border without paperwork, according to the latest border data. But any improvement in the handling of migrants within the country could affect an already strained system.
The latest decline in Del Rio comes amid a mild shock to Home Office management who recently left the Chief of Staff, Assistant Secretary for Border Policy and Immigration, and Chief Prosecutor of Immigration and Customs. plans have been announced. Agency at the end of the month.
The city of Del Rio, located in the southwestern part of the state of Edwards Plateau across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Aqua in Mexico, has been experiencing a constant wave of migration since this spring as it is easier to find due to its remoteness. . The cross, officials said.
Immigration officials left so many migrants in the city in March that residents complained that the jump would exhaust the city’s limited resources. Victor Ascalon, the State Department’s regional director for Public Security in South Texas, said a dozen criminal arrests of illegal migrants had flooded local prisons.
“We have to press and stop,” said Mr. Escalon, who this year led Operation Lone Star, a program created by Abbott that allows him to send resources and hundreds of government officials to border communities. give.
Tiffany Burrow, director of operations for the Val Verde Humanitarian Frontier Coalition migrant support center, said she feared the group’s resources would not be sufficient to deal with this week’s flooding.
“We can’t help so many people,” said Ms. Burrows. “The city will not support all these people. The city under the bridge could be bigger than Del Rio.
Typically, this group helps connect about 300 migrants per day to transportation to their final destination in the United States.
As late as Thursday evening, large crowds of parents and children could be seen under the bridge in the scorching sun. Officials say many can wait up to two weeks before being treated by border guards and then taken to shelters.
Among those waiting is a Cuban couple expecting their first child. On Thursday, as suffering escalated, he witnessed the number of people waiting for treatment soar to unimaginable numbers.
“He’s not in good shape,” said Janet, 46, who chose not to use her last name. “I have to bathe in the river. There is a lot of dust under the bridge. ”
While waiting, the migrants had 22 portable toilets, but no running water. They mainly eat food bought in Mexico and move back and forth in the Rio Grande. At night they sleep in chaos under the light of floodlights, surveillance devices, and armed border guards.
Report by James Dobbins of del Rio, Eileen Sullivan of Washington, and Edgar Sandovalli of San Antonio.