World 'We've been through 11 countries to reach US border'
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Even in late summer, few migrants attempt to cross into the United States from the Mexican border town of Mexicali. The temperatures are brutal, consistently in the mid-40C. And beyond the neighbouring US town of Calexico, lie many miles of inhospitable desert.
Attempting the journey in the searing heat would be madness.
Yet the migrants gathered in a Haitian restaurant a few blocks from the border wall have already been through worse. Especially Fiterson Janvier and his family.
As they finish a Creole-style meal of chicken, rice-and-beans and plantains, there is both exhaustion and disbelief in their eyes. Exhaustion at their journey from South America over the past few months, and disbelief at some of the things they witnessed and experienced along the way.
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"I left my country on 26 August 2014," explains Mr Janvier, his three-year-old son absentmindedly playing with a toy car on the restaurant floor.
Having spent several years in Brazil, he moved to Chile, met his wife and they had a child. But as they could not move beyond the lowest social rung in South America, they decided the time was right to attempt to reach the US.
"We have been through eleven different countries to get here. Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador..." Mr Janvier begins to name them in order, describing an extraordinary journey on foot and by bus, that traverses the Andes and the Amazonian Basin.
It was a deeply harrowing trip too.
As he took his young family across the Darien Gap, seven days through the dense jungle between Colombia and Panama, Mr Janvier says he saw the dead bodies of other Haitian and Cuban migrants.
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Retired Border Chief Rodney Scott sent a letter to Senate leadership warning that the border crisis is unsustainable.Scott, who served in Border Patrol for nearly 30 years before stepping down in June, also warned the situation is a national security threat, according to his Sept. 11 letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as well as Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
He describes being robbed of what little he had by "bandits", most likely members of violent drug and people-smuggling gangs which operate in the region. He said some of the women were raped, although his wife managed to hide with the child when the gang appeared.
Migrant rights groups estimate that in Mexico alone as many as 80% of migrants have been victimised, extorted or abused on their journey, many of them by the police and the immigration authorities.
Were it not enough, along the way Mr Janvier received some awful news from home. When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in August, the worst affected city was Les Cayes - his hometown.
His mother was among the 2,200 people who died in the quake, trapped under the rubble of the family home. His father lost a leg. Mr Janvier shows me photographs of the destroyed house on his phone, and begins to fight back tears.
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As officials scramble to cope with the flood of Haitian migrants to the Del Rio bridge, multiple sources say that the response -- including a surge in agents to the bridge from elsewhere in the sector -- has left other parts of the border wide open. As more than 14,000 migrants camped out under the international bridge in Del Rio, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week surged hundreds of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) law enforcement to the bridge to process migrants as part of a strategy that included increasing deportation flights.
"I had to keep going. My father has no-one now, the only person who can send him money is my brother [in the US]," he says. "And I need to help too."
So, the biggest fear for Mr Janvier, and the other Haitians at the restaurant's plastic tables, is not dying in the desert but deportation.
Haiti is at its lowest ebb in years. The president was assassinated in July, gang violence is spiralling, and the country is grappling with economic ruin and the effects of climate change.
"Haiti is like hell for me now," he says with seriousness. "There is nothing for me there. Nothing. If they're going to send me back, they may as well just kill me. Just end it all."
It is not the only time Mr Janvier refers to his journey as a matter of life and death. It is something echoed by Kelly Overton, the executive director of Border Kindness, which provides education, health and legal services to migrants in Mexicali.
"There does seem to be a level of desperation from the families from Haiti right now," he says. "They say there's no option to go back, no safe place to go back to, no possibility of a life that's worth living."
Border Patrol union chief says Biden using 'whip' furor to deflect from handling of migrant crisis
Brandon Judd, head of the Border Patrol union, is accusing the Biden administration of using a controversy over agents on horseback blocking Haitian migrants to “deflect” from its own handling of the crisis at the border -- while saying the furor is “completely and totally demoralizing” for agents."They know that what is taking place under the bridge is very embarrassing to them so they are trying to deflect," Brandon Judd, head of the National Border Patrol Council, told Fox News in an interview. "That’s the administration trying to deflect off themselves for their failures which led to the catastrophe that's taking place under the bridge.
Amid the uncertainty, it is the impotence - the near-total lack of agency over his circumstances - which hurts Mr Janvier the most.
"If I could talk to the president," he trails off. "But who am I? I'm no-one."
"It's like the world doesn't want those of us who have this colour", pointing to his black skin. "This world doesn't want to see us. And I don't know what to do."
GOP senators demand ex-Border Patrol chief Rodney Scott testify before Congress .
Five Republican senators demanded Friday that former U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott be allowed to testify before Congress regarding a letter he wrote blistering the Biden administration for the border crisis. Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., James Lankford, R-Okla., Rand Paul, R-Ky., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., urged Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, and ranking member Sen. Rob Portman, D-Ohio, to hear from Scott, who retired in June after 30 years in Border Patrol when the Biden administration forced him out.