DEL RIO, Texas – Department of Homeland Security officials said they were making progress in reducing the number of migrants, mostly Haitian, camped under the international bridge in Del Rio.
DHS officials said 3,100 migrants remained at the camp, down from the estimated 15,000 to 16,000 migrants who crowded this part of the Texas border.
Federal officials also said 1,949 Haitian migrants had been expelled from the US, 548 of whom were flown to Haiti on Thursday. Another 3,901 Haitian nationals have been moved to other Customs and Border Protection facilities to be expelled under Title 42, or placed in other removal proceedings. DHS officials could not say how many migrants were being released into the United States with notices to appear in immigration court at a later date or notices to report to ICE.
KPRC 2 Investigates saw dozens of migrants being dropped off by Border Patrol vans at a shelter in Del Rio where they were given food and personal hygiene products before being placed on charter buses bound for Houston and other cities.
DHS officials said many of the migrants in the camps had been moved to other Border Patrol facilities for processing. DHS said the US Department of State was also in talks with countries like Chile and Brazil to accept some Haitian migrants who had been living in those countries prior to coming to the United States as a way to potentially speed deportation efforts. When asked how the government was deciding who was being released and who was being deported, we were told the decision was done on a case-by-case basis based on the vulnerability of the individual.
Across the border, Mexican authorities were seen going through hotels in Ciudad Acuna, looking for Haitian migrants. Earlier this week the Mexican government pledged to help stop the flow of migrants coming to the border.
On Wednesday, KPRC 2 Investigates visited a large encampment of Haitian migrants at a park in Ciudad Acuna. Many migrants were seen crossing back-and-forth between the camp in Texas and the camp in Mexico. Thursday morning the entrance to the park was closed by police and immigration officials. A row of Mexican police vehicles was also seen stationed near the Rio Grande river as a deterrent.
DHS also faced questions about why the government seemed to be caught off guard by the large numbers of people approaching the border. DHS officials said they had no prior intelligence a large group of Haitian migrants was approaching the border and are now investigating how a large scale movement like this “flew under the radar.”