Biden administration plans to deport 10,000 Haitian migrants sheltering under a bridge in Texas, reports say

Haitian migrants use a dam to cross into the United States from Mexico, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.
Haitian migrants use a dam to cross into the United States from Mexico, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. Eric Gay/AP
  • Around 10,000 Haitian migrants are sheltering under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas.
  • The Biden administration is planning to deport the migrants, with flights due to begin on Sunday.
  • Del Rio’s mayor declared a state of emergency, describing the situation as “unprecedented” and “surreal.”
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The US government is planning to fly back thousands of Haitian migrants who have gathered under a bridge in Texas, reports say.

The Biden administration has three flights planned for Sunday, an official anonymously told The New York Times, and starting on Monday, they plan to run four flights a day.

Around 10,000 migrants have been sheltering in a makeshift camp under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas, which crosses the Rio Grande from Mexico to the US, The Washington Post reported.

Aerial footage showed thousands of Haitian migrants wading through ankle or waist-deep wateracross to reach the US from Mexico.

Del Rio’s mayor Bruno Lozano has declared a state of emergency, describing the situation as “unprecedented” and “surreal,” the BBC said.

Migrants told Reuters that they were facing food and water shortages amid rising temperatures reaching around 99 Fahrenheit.

Migrants seeking asylum walk into the Rio Grande river to cross the border between Ciudad Acuna, Mexico and Del Rio, in Texas, U.S., after buying supplies at the Mexican side, in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, September 18, 2021.
Migrants seeking asylum walk into the Rio Grande river to cross the border between Ciudad Acuna, Mexico and Del Rio, in Texas, U.S., after buying supplies at the Mexican side, in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, September 18, 2021. Daniel Becerril/Reuters

US authorities said on Friday that they were temporarily closing the border crossing “to respond to urgent safety and security needs,” The Associated Press reported.

The migrants are mostly Haitians, with some Cubans, Peruvians, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans present, AP said.

The influx of Haitian migrants comes after a summer of political instability and tragedy in the Caribbean nation.

In July, Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home, and in August, a powerful earthquake killed 2,100 people and left others struggling for basic necessities.

Over 29,000 Haitians have arrived over the past 11 months, The Washington Post said, citing the latest Customs and Border Protection figures.

The migrants were part of a wave of Haitians heading north, many of whom arrived in South America after the 2010 earthquake, the paper reported.

Many have embarked on dangerous journeys to reach the United States, trekking through jungles and dodging criminal gangs, the paper said.

After the events of this summer, the Biden administration curtailed deportation flights to Haiti, according to the paper.

The decision to now deport the migrants reflects a change in approach, as the government struggles to cope with record numbers of migrants.

Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for allowing hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants to cross the border into the United States, The Times said.

Democrats counter the claims.

“We have reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” Marsha Espinosa, assistant secretary for public affairs for the Department of Homeland Security, said, according to The New York Times.