Mon | Oct 25, 2021

US launches mass expulsion of Haitian migrants from Texas

Published:Monday | September 20, 2021 | 3:04 PM
Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande river from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Monday, September 20, 2021, to avoid deportation from the US. The US is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — More than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants have been removed from an encampment at a Texas border town, United States officials said Monday as they defended a strong response that included immediately deporting migrants to their impoverished Caribbean country and using horse patrols to stop them from entering the town.

Calling it a “challenging and heartbreaking situation,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a stark warning: “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.”

Mayorkas and Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said they would look into agents on horseback using what appeared to be whips and their horses to push back migrants at the river between Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, and Del Rio, Texas, where thousands of migrants remain camped around a bridge.

Both officials said they saw nothing apparently wrong based on the widely seen photos and video.

Mayorkas said agents use long reins, not whips, to control their horses.

Ortiz, the former chief of the Del Rio sector, said it can be confusing to distinguish between migrants and smugglers as people moved back and forth near the river.

The chief said he would investigate to make sure there were no “unacceptable” actions by the agents.

Mayorkas said 600 Homeland Security employees, including from the Coast Guard, have been brought to Del Rio, a city of about 35,000 people roughly 145 miles west of San Antonio.

He said he has asked the Defence Department for help in what may be one of the swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants and refugees from the United States in decades.

He also said the U.S. would increase the pace and capacity of flights to Haiti and other countries in the hemisphere.

The number of migrants at the bridge peaked at 14,872 on Saturday, said Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labour union that represents agents.

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