Harrowing photos at Texas border show desperate Haitian migrants crossing river with belongings

·2-min read
Harrowing photos at Texas border show desperate Haitian migrants crossing river with belongings

Photographs and videos of the thousands of Haitian migrants who have come to a small Texas border town of Del Rio, offer a glimpse into the chaos that has been unfolding at the US-Mexico border since last week.

In the past week, US authorities have moved to expel nearly 12,000 asylum seekers from Haiti who were fleeing their home country to escape corruption, disaster and poverty.

With their toddlers on their shoulder and home packed in a few bags, many were also forced to cross Mexico’s Rio Grande into the US following the devastating earthquake in August that killed over 2,200 people and destroyed thousands of homes, and the assassination of their president Jovenel Moise in July.

According to US media reports, nearly 15,000 Haitians are sleeping under a highway bridge in rapidly deteriorating sanitary conditions, offering an overwhelming challenge to both the local and federal authorities.

Some migrants waded back through the river to buy food in Mexico that they carried in boxes on their heads before returning to the encampment in Texas. Others crossed the Acandi river to arrive in Columbia before beginning an arduous journey to Mexico.

Haitian migrants are pictured in a makeshift encampment where more than 12,000 people hoping to enter the United States await under the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas on 21 September 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
Haitian migrants are pictured in a makeshift encampment where more than 12,000 people hoping to enter the United States await under the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas on 21 September 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
A father and daughter pass the evening inside a migrant camp at the US-Mexico border on 21 September 2021 in Del Rio, Texas (Getty Images)
A father and daughter pass the evening inside a migrant camp at the US-Mexico border on 21 September 2021 in Del Rio, Texas (Getty Images)
A Haitian migrant uses the Rio Grande to take a bath after crossing a dam from Mexico to the United States, Friday, 17 September 2021, in Del Rio, Texas (AP)
A Haitian migrant uses the Rio Grande to take a bath after crossing a dam from Mexico to the United States, Friday, 17 September 2021, in Del Rio, Texas (AP)
Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Tuesday, 21 September 2021, to avoid deportation from the U.S (AP)
Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Tuesday, 21 September 2021, to avoid deportation from the U.S (AP)
Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Tuesday, 21 September 2021, to avoid deportation from the US (AP)
Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Tuesday, 21 September 2021, to avoid deportation from the US (AP)

Images of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents on Horseback apparently attempting to corral migrants in specific areas also emerged belying President Joe Biden’s promise of restoring an asylum programme for vulnerable families fleeing persecution.

A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on 19 September 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on 19 September 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

In at least one video, a CBP agent is heard berating a migrant using xenophobic and racist language, exclaiming to one man as he and his wife crossed a river: “This is why your country’s sh*t, because you use your women for this!”

A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on 19 September 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on 19 September 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

Among those condemning the images coming out of Del Rio was Vice President Kamala Harris. “What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback, treating human beings the way they were was horrible,” she told reporters on Tuesday. “I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into what is going on there, but human beings should never be treated that way, and I’m deeply troubled about it.”

Men lift a baby over the waters of the Rio Grande river as migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Monday, 20 September 2021, to avoid deportation from the US (AP)
Men lift a baby over the waters of the Rio Grande river as migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, Monday, 20 September 2021, to avoid deportation from the US (AP)
Migrants continue on their trek north, near Acandi, Colombia, Wednesday, 15 September 2021. The migrants, mostly Haitians, are on their way to crossing the Darien Gap from Colombia into Panama dreaming of reaching the US (AP)
Migrants continue on their trek north, near Acandi, Colombia, Wednesday, 15 September 2021. The migrants, mostly Haitians, are on their way to crossing the Darien Gap from Colombia into Panama dreaming of reaching the US (AP)

She added that she would be in touch with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Despite the condemnation, the Biden administration has continued deporting the more than 12,000 Haitians assembled at the border en masse under Title 42, a Trump-era immigration rule that largely shut down the border to asylum seekers.

Migrants, many from Haiti, board a bus after they were processed and released after spending time at a makeshift camp near the International Bridge, Monday, 20 September 2021, in Del Rio, Texas (AP)
Migrants, many from Haiti, board a bus after they were processed and released after spending time at a makeshift camp near the International Bridge, Monday, 20 September 2021, in Del Rio, Texas (AP)
Haitians deported from the United States recover their belongings on the tarmac of the Toussaint Louverture airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Tuesday, 21 September 2021 (AP)
Haitians deported from the United States recover their belongings on the tarmac of the Toussaint Louverture airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Tuesday, 21 September 2021 (AP)

It has also ramped up flights to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, while bussing some of the migrants away from the capital. The asylum seekers with young children are especially worried about the spike in violence in their homeland’s capital, where the gangs control roughly one-third of the territory.

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