Daniella Flores | Writer
September 24, 2021
For over three weeks, thousands of migrants have been arriving at the Del Rio international bridge. They have been able to freely cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico into Del Rio, Texas, and most are either being processed by United States Customs and Border Protection, seeking asylum, or awaiting deportation by US authorities. The influx of migrants continues to worry border patrol authorities and fuel xenophobia.
The temporary migrant camp primarily consists of migrants fleeing Haiti. Frequent natural disasters and political unrest in the nation have prompted a steady flow of migration for more than a decade, an estimated 15,000 migrants taking refuge under the Del Rio Bridge, hoping for a better life in the US.
In recent months, the assassination of Haiti’s president, a deadly earthquake that killed over 2,000 people, and an uprising of gang violence have caused thousands more Haitians to leave the country.
More than 97% of these migrants were already settled within the countries of South America and did not come to the US directly from Haiti. With dwindling economic opportunities in South America due to the pandemic, Haitian migrants are now journeying to the United States.
As the situation escalated for President Joe Biden’s administration, harrowing images have surfaced of border patrol officers riding on horseback, using whips to disperse the migrants. “They [the migrants] are in search of something better, not American brutality,” junior Ava Miller said. Biden’s campaign promise to take a more humanitarian approach to the immigration question in the US is truly being tested during this crisis.
The Department of Homeland Security has temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol after the shocking images from the scene.
Some migrants described that once they arrived at the U.S. border, they were treated more like inmates rather than refugees. US officials closed all access points for migrants, purposefully, so they could not access food. Some migrants were put onto a bus and taken to jail and told that they would not be released for a minimum of two days. Others were taken to the airport with chains placed around their feet, hands, and stomachs.
With worsening conditions, many migrants are struggling to combat various illnesses they have contracted during their time at the camp. At least five women from the camp have given birth at a local Del Rio hospital.
The Department of Homeland Security has begun accelerating flights back to Haiti and other countries but has faced backlash. Haiti is protesting the deportation flights, as they no longer have the capacity to take in their own people with the recent events in their country. The goal is to have one to three flights a day. Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said that the administration hopes to clear out the migrant camp under the bridge within the next nine or ten days. Most of the migrants are being deported under Title 42, the pandemic health order issued by the CDC last year to rapidly deport migrants to Mexico or their home country without them having an opportunity to seek asylum.
“It’s hypocritical that the government is using COVID as an excuse to send nearly all the immigrants back when the government is also pushing to return back to normal pre-pandemic life,” junior Estella Olivares said. “You cannot try to eliminate mask mandates or vaccine requirements because the pandemic is ‘over’, then use the same pandemic as an excuse not to allow immigrants in.”
Last week, a federal judge ruled that the Biden administration could no longer use Title 42 to deport migrant families, but the ruling won’t go into effect for 14 days.
Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, announced that $100 million in state grants would be awarded to municipal governments along the border to increase their law enforcement operations and help cover the costs of detaining and prosecuting migrants.
Abbott continues to blame the Biden administration for the situation, saying that the government is not doing enough to secure and protect the country’s southern border.