Del Rio mayor Bruno Lozano said that early Thursday evening 10,503 migrants were under the Del Rio international bridge, up from 8,200 in the morning. Food and water are scarce, around 20 migrants told Reuters, and temperatures have reached around 37 ° C. Reuters has seen hundreds of migrants cross the Rio Grande River and return to Mexico to stock up on produce. basic necessities that they say do not receive on the American side.
The migrants are mostly Haitians, with Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans also present.
The squalid conditions reflect the humanitarian challenge Biden faces as border arrests hover around 20-year highs. US authorities arrested more than 195,000 migrants at the Mexican border in August, according to government data released Wednesday.
Several Haitians told Reuters they were following instructions shared over WhatsApp by other Haitians looking for a safe route to avoid being caught by Mexican authorities.
Ernesto, a 31-year-old Haitian migrant, returned to Mexico on Thursday to purchase water and food – for the fourth time, he said, since arriving in the United States on Monday morning. Ernesto, who declined to give his last name to protect his identity, said he and his 3-year-old daughter were not fed at the camp, where migrants scramble for shade.
Sometimes, he said, he runs to avoid Mexican migration agents but is usually not bothered by them. “But now the money is running out,” he said.
The migrants showed Reuters tickets with numbers they had received from the US Border Patrol. Several said other migrants told them they could be stuck in the camp for up to five days.
US border workers question policies
The border patrol said in a statement that it was increasing its strength in Del Rio to facilitate a “safe, humane and orderly process.” Drinking water, towels and portable toilets have been provided, the statement said, while migrants wait to be transported to the facilities.
Biden, a Democrat who took office in January, has called off some of the harsh immigration measures of his Republican predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
But he has been caught between pro-migrant groups and some Democrats who have criticized him for not doing more to help migrants, and opponents who say his policies have encouraged illegal immigration.
LISTEN | The challenges of the Biden border (March 2021):
Del Rio is in Val Verde County, which voted for Trump in 2020. Some residents of this sprawling bilingual border town say they feel abandoned by the federal government when it comes to border security.
“Are they doing something to stop them from coming?” A woman said as she looked at the encampment as she crossed the bridge.
Reaction of Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar:
These developments are heartbreaking and the lack of urgency to help is alarming. Most of these Haitian migrants have already been through a lot before even making the dangerous journey to our border. https://t.co/0kdiRblIcf
Carlos, a 27-year-old Venezuelan who said he left his home after graduating from college in July, said he believed the camp had doubled in size since arriving on Tuesday. Carlos, who declined to give his full name, said he only had $ 10 left and there were 400 families ahead of him in the queue for treatment.
Migrants and Mexican officials said many more are expected in the coming days. Some told Reuters they chose to cross here because the river is shallow and they felt there was comparatively less cartel activity.
Reaction from Republican Representative Lee Zeldin:
There is a massive and widespread crisis on our southern border. With the policies, statements and reckless leadership of the Biden administration, there is 100% certainty that it will only get worse. All media should report this and the administrator should be obligated to resolve this issue.
Jeff Jeune, a 27-year-old Haitian who sold bottled water for a profit of 3 pesos (15 cents), said he and his young family were exhausted, starving and sleeping on the floor. He worried that his children were falling ill in the makeshift camp.
“My ten-year-old asks, ‘When are we leaving?’ He always asks that. “
The developments come as court hearings continue on several aspects of U.S. immigration and asylum policy.
Judge declares deportation order invalid
A U.S. district judge on Thursday blocked the deportation of families of migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border under an order put in place by the Trump administration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order, invoking Title 42, was made in March 2020 by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cited the need to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Colombia drafted the public health law upon which the policy not to allow deportations of migrants is based. Deporting asylum seekers deprives them of “the possibility of claiming humanitarian benefits” to which they are entitled under immigration law, he wrote.
The judge’s order only applies to families and not to single adults, who make up most of the migrants stopped at the border.
Sullivan’s order takes effect in 14 days. The Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment.