Photos captured between Friday, September 17, and Monday, September 20 show Haitian migrants trying to navigate the humanitarian crisis at the US and Mexico border.
Some of the estimated 14,000 mainly Haitian migrants that ended up in Del Rio, Texas, seeking asylum following a massive earthquake and the assassination of the Haitian president, began heading back to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on Monday, to avoid being deported by the US.
Thousands of migrants had settled underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, in the heat where essentials such as food, water, and restrooms were scarce.
President Joe Biden, who had discontinued some of Trump’s immigration policies, leading migrants to believe the US was more open to migrants, has begun deporting migrants back to Haiti, The New York Times reported.
The mayor of Del Rio, Texas declared a state of emergency on September 17 following the settlement of thousands of mostly Haitian migrants underneath a bridge in Del Rio.
Del Rio Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano is working alongside Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the Chief of the US Border Patrol Raul Ortiz to find a solution at the border and to deport migrants, the mayor said in a tweet on Sunday.
Some Haitian migrants were spotted moving back towards Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, on September 20, to prevent being deported back to Haiti.
Desperate to not return back to Haiti, some migrants have begun moving from Texas back into Mexico. CNBC reported that at least 100 migrants were heading back to Mexico.
As of Sunday, September 19, the US had flown 3,300 Haitians back to Haiti.
Haitian migrants were captured on photo wading through the Rio Grande.
Some migrants also crossed the Rio Grande in search of food and other resources.
US Customs and Border Patrol agents were photographed using whips to prevent Haitian migrants from joining the other Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas.
Those who tried to return with resources on Sunday were met by US Customs and Border Patrol agents on horseback who were armed with whips.
“I have seen some of the footage,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said to reporters during a news briefing on Monday, referring to video of the CBP agents scattering migrants. “I don’t have the full context. I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate, but I don’t have additional details. … I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet on Monday that the current “immigration system is designed for cruelty towards and dehumanization of immigrants.”
“This is a stain on our country,” she continued.
“Video and photos coming out of Del Rio showing US Border Patrol’s mistreatment of Haitian migrants along the border are horrific and disturbing,” Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, told The Post.
“This mistreatment runs counter to our American values and cannot be tolerated,” he added.
The Department of Homeland Security responded to the footage on Monday.
“Secretary Mayorkas visited Del Rio today and witnessed the extraordinary work of DHS personnel,” DHS spokesperson said in the statement. “The footage is extremely troubling and the facts learned from the full investigation, which will be conducted swiftly, will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken.”
“We are committed to processing migrants in a safe, orderly, and humane way. We can and must do this in a way that ensures the safety and dignity of migrants,” the statement concluded.
DHS and CBP did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The Biden-Harris Administration will continue invoking Title 42 – an order issued by Trump.
“If you come to the US illegally, you will be returned,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a Monday news conference. “Your journey will not succeed.”
Title 42 is an immigration policy issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention during Trump’s presidency that allows the swift deportation of migrants as a measure to keep COVID-19 from spreading.
Steven Forester, an immigration policy coordinator at the US-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, told Al Jazeera that the order is entirely “unconscionable.”
“There’s no way Haiti can handle the people that are in Haiti now given the conditions there. It can’t provide for these people,” he added.