US has started deporting hundreds of mostly Haitian migrants and plans to expel many more from a crowd of more than 12,000 people camping at a border town in Texas for several days.
At least 3,300 migrants were expelled from Texas’s Del Rio city by authorities over the weekend. More than 320 Haitian migrants arrived in Haiti’s national capital Port-au-Prince on Sunday, with six more flights expected on Tuesday, reported the Associated Press (AP).
The migrants had camped around a bridge in Del Rio after crossing over from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico.
The move by the US has angered the migrants, who have fumed at the Joe Biden-led administration’s deportation policy.
Many said the mass-expulsion move makes him no different than Donald Trump who had also pushed migrant families out during his presidency.
Twenty-three-year-old Johnson Bordes and his family were among the ones who fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
“If Biden continues with these deportations, he’s no better than Trump,” Mr Bordes, who was deported to the Haitian capital on Sunday, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.
The mass expulsion by the US government will impact several of the migrants who are from Haiti, but who had fled the country, migrated to South America and then reached the US border in a search for a better life and more opportunities.
Several reports said many of the migrants had not been to their home country for several years and would face many challenges in rebuilding their lives yet again.
Several migrants from Del Rio said they were afraid of going back to Haiti because they feared for their lives from the security situation in the country and a bad economy.
The country’s citizens have been reeling from escalating gang violence, the assassination of President Jovenel Moise and the 2010 earthquake that had upended many lives and brought the economy to the brink.
US officials decided to empty the sprawling migrant camp under the bridge and send the migrants back on planes. The aim is to “quickly process” 12,662 migrants from under the bridge over the next week, US Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz said at a press conference, according to Reuters.
A stretched US Customs and Border Protection force has been struggling to process the thousands of asylum claims from the migrants.
A new flight schedule carrying migrants to the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince has also been announced, officials said amid concerns of the mass influx of migrants.
“How could Biden do this to us?” asked Sonia Piard, who reached Texas last week with her husband and three kids. On Friday, Ms Piard, her husband and kids aged 10, 8 and 7 were caught sleeping under the bridge by US officials and sent to a detention centre.
ââHaitians had begun migrating to South America for several years after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The migration crisis deepened once the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro led to jobs drying up, forcing many to leave the country and trek on foot, bus and car to reach the US border.
US authorities in August stopped migrants nearly 209,000 times at the border, the highest in 20 years, reported AP, citing official figures. Families were stopped 86,487 times in August, but fewer than one in five resulted in expulsion.
Haitians were stopped 7,580 times in August, a figure that has increased every month since August 2020, when they stopped only 55.