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DEL RIO – As immigration officers continue to transport over the thousands of migrants camped in this border town to other processing centers or to their countries of origin, state soldiers have created a ‘wall of ‘steel’ several kilometers of patrol vehicles to deter more people from crossing the Rio Grande to an encampment under the Del Rio International Bridge.
No less than 15,000 migrants, many of them Haitians, have crossed the river to seek asylum in recent days, but by Tuesday morning that number had dropped to around 6,200 camping under the bridge, according to the Val County Sheriff. Verde, Joe Frank Martinez.
It’s unclear how authorities decide which migrants are allowed to seek asylum and which are flown back to their home countries, but at a charter bus stop at a gas station here, many migrants who have been Allowed to enter the country while their asylum applications are pending were families with young children and pregnant women.
Many of them held yellow numbered tickets and said border patrol officers categorized them by colored tickets – yellow for groups including pregnant women, blue for families with children and red and green for men and women. single women.
“Those with children are likely to receive a notice of appearance [in immigration court], and then the others… I don’t know what they’re going to do, ”Martinez said.
On the river, Martinez said, 700 state soldiers patrol near the migrant encampment and around the city as immigration officers work to move migrants under the bridge. Some are being sent to other immigrant processing centers in El Paso, Laredo and Weslaco, Martinez said.
The World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that provides food to people usually after natural disasters, has started preparing food for the remaining migrants.
US border patrol chief Raul L. Ortiz, from Del Rio, said on Sunday that there were no more migrants crossing the river to enter the camp. A border patrol spokesperson did not respond to an email asking if other crossings had taken place since then. Martinez said the numbers had declined, but about 50 families or individuals received tickets on Tuesday evening.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott blamed the “steel wall” of Department of Public Safety vehicles for stopping migrants.
“One day countless people crossed the border, and then the same day the Texas Department of Public Safety put all of these DPS vehicles up,” Abbott said at a press conference near the camp on Tuesday. “And suddenly, in an instant, people stopped crossing the border there. This strategy works.
Abbott has made immigration enforcement a priority for his administration, pushing an agenda that includes building more barriers along the Texas-Mexico border, arresting and prosecuting migrants crossing the Rio Grande on state charges, and the prosecution of the Biden administration for what the governor has described as President Joe Biden’s open border policies.
The Biden administration, meanwhile, has come under increasing criticism from its own party for continuing to deport large numbers of migrants under Title 42, the pandemic health ordinance issued under the Trump administration to quickly deport migrants to Mexico or their country of origin without the ability to seek asylum. .
Immigrant rights advocates and lawmakers also criticized Biden for the way border patrol officers treated migrants after photos and videos showed officers on horseback loading and rounding up migrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande to Del Rio.
On Tuesday, US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tweeted that his agency, which oversees the border patrol, will investigate the agents’ actions and that the agents involved have been put on administrative duty.
“They are not performing their other law enforcement duties and they are not to interact with other migrants at this time during the investigation,” Mayorkas said in the tweet.
Organizers of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a San Diego-based nonprofit that helps migrants in Del Rio with clothing, food and shelter, criticized the government for what they call the inhumane treatment of applicants. asylum.
“The Biden administration must end this violence and fix the failing immigration system to which it pledged during the campaign,” the group said in a statement.
Haiti was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August, a month after the assassination of its president – the latest tragedies for a country stricken by political instability and turmoil. Many migrants in Del Rio had lived in Chile for years after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, then recently made the trip to Texas.
Many of them said they left Chile because of the racist treatment they faced in this South American country and because the pandemic has cut many jobs.
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