Thousands of Haitian migrants who were camped under a bridge in Texas have reportedly been released into the U.S., despite the Biden administration’s assurances that they would be removed from the country.
A U.S. official reportedly told the Associated Press that the migrants are being released into the country on a “very, very large scale” with notices to appear at an immigration court within 60 days. That official put the number in the thousands.
The news comes days after the White House vowed to increase deportation efforts, saying it would send five to eight planes of migrants back to Haiti per day. The flights began on Sunday and more than 500 migrants have been removed, Reuters reported. Single adult males are the priority for expulsion, while many family units are being admitted.
On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas traveled to Del Rio and warned people not to try to enter the U.S. illegally, saying they would be expelled.
“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned, your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life,” he said at a news conference.
Border patrol agents have been overwhelmed by thousands of mostly Haitian migrants streaming across the border in Del Rio, Texas, and camping out on the American side of the Rio Grande under an international bridge. The number of migrants at the camp has exploded since Wednesday, when there were 4,000 migrants there. Since then, the number has topped 14,000 at times.
The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly been busing Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso, Laredo and Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border, as well as flying migrants to Tucson, Ariz., an official told the AP. Migrants aboard one such bus rebelled and managed to escape on Tuesday but were subsequently captured.
Border Patrol then works to process the migrants at those secondary locations.
The U.N. refugee chief said expelling the migrants back to Haiti could violate international law by sending refugees back to life-threatening situations.
Meanwhile, three U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers received non-life threatening injuries after “two separate disruptions” by Haitian migrants when they deplaned on the tarmac at Port-au-Prince, according to Fox News.
“On Tuesday, Sept. 21, some adult migrants caused two separate disruptions on the tarmac after deplaning in Port-au-Prince, Haiti,” a DHS spokesperson reportedly told the outlet. “Haitian crowd control officers responded to both incidents and resolved the situations. ICE fully respects the rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions, while continuing to perform its immigration enforcement mission consistent with our priorities, federal law and agency policy.”