Thousands of migrants are thought to have been admitted into the US from the southern border, where others have been forced onto repatriation flights to Haiti, two US officials have alleged.
Speaking on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, the two officials told The Associated Press that migrants, many of whom are Haitian, had been freed on a “very, very large scale” in recent days.
But as officials told reporters, many more migrants were thought to have been released from the temporary camp in Del Rio, Texas, and into the US, with instructions to appear at an immigration office within 60 days.
In recent days, US officials had run out of options for transporting migrants away from the border by bus, and resorted to flying migrants to processing facilities in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley, as well as Tuscon, Arizona.
Others were forced onto repatriation flights to Haiti, from where thousands have fled in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 2010.
More recently, many Haitians have fled a presidential assassination in July, and another earthquake in August, which has again left the island nation in crisis – with food, water and medical supplies in short supply.
US officials have attempted to downplay the scale of the challenge to US Border Patrol as the numbers of migrants in Del Rio went beyond 10,000 last week.
Images of migrants on the border forced the White House to issue a warning for migrants not to travel to the US, and threats of reparation to Haiti, which started on Sunday.
A third anonymous official said the number of daily flights to deport migrants would go from three to seven a day from Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.
It is not clear how many Haitians have been deported under Title 42, a Trump administration law that was introduced to expel migrants on public health grounds during the Covid crisis. The Independent has approached US Border Patrol for clarification.
One of the officials quoted in the report said the release of migrants into the US showed the Biden administration wanted to deal with the situation at speed.
Officials in Mexico, meanwhile, are also preparing to repatriate Haitians to Guatemala. Many others already have asylum status in Brazil and Chile, and were using Mexico to get to the US.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.