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US 'They shouldn't be here': Texas border town reckons with Haitian influx

05:45  24 september  2021
05:45  24 september  2021 Source:   latimes.com

Children a big part of migration through perilous Darien Gap

  Children a big part of migration through perilous Darien Gap NECOCLI, Colombia (AP) — Every day, at least 500 migrants from around the world sail out of Necocli, a small town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, across the Gulf of Uraba to the village of Acandi, to start a week-long trek through the jungle that takes them into Panama — the next stop on the long road to the United States. About one quarter of them are children, according to Panamanian officials, and often still in arms. While trekking throughAbout one quarter of them are children, according to Panamanian officials, and often still in arms.

At the dusty Border Taxi parking lot Thursday, owner Juan Dehoyos wondered aloud when the nearby bridge to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, would reopen.

a crowd of people at a beach: Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen at an encampment along the Del Rio-Ciudad Acuña International Bridge near the Rio Grande on Tuesday in Del Rio, Texas. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press) © (Julio Cortez / Associated Press) Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen at an encampment along the Del Rio-Ciudad Acuña International Bridge near the Rio Grande on Tuesday in Del Rio, Texas. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

The border bridge closed Sept. 17, after U.S. Customs and Border Protection was overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of Haitian migrants. Each day, Dehoyos loses about $1,000.

He pointed to a half-dozen tractor-trailers in his lot.

“All those trucks are stuck here because they can’t cross,” said Dehoyos, 66, wearing a Del Rio Feed & Supply cap, Western belt and boots. “They cross every day, but now they can’t.”

US nears plan for widescale expulsions of Haitian migrants

  US nears plan for widescale expulsions of Haitian migrants DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — The Biden administration worked Saturday on plans to send many of the thousands of Haitian immigrants who have gathered in a Texas border city back to their Caribbean homeland, in a swift response to the huge influx of people who suddenly crossed the border from Mexico and congregated under and around a bridge. Details were yet to be finalized but would likely involve five to eight flights per day that would begin Sunday, according to an official with direct knowledge of the plans who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

This border town of about 36,000 — 85% Latino, many with ties across the border, and home to Laughlin Air Force Base and a slew of cross-border family businesses — has been divided by the influx of Haitian migrants this month that stirred national controversy. Some residents and churches donated to support the local migrant shelter. But they also posted signs at their businesses that read, “Thank you first responders!” showing support for the governor’s recent surge of law enforcement and National Guard troops to secure the border. Even the Democratic mayor, Bruno "Ralphy" Lozano, backed the Republican governor, attacking President Biden on Twitter for failing to address the border crisis.

On Thursday, many in town followed news that Daniel Foote, the U.S. special envoy to Haiti, had resigned with a scathing letter criticizing the treatment of Haitians and deportations from the camp.

Biden sends hundreds of border agents, steps up flights to remove Haitian migrants from south Texas

  Biden sends hundreds of border agents, steps up flights to remove Haitian migrants from south Texas The Department of Homeland Security released the Biden administration's six-point strategy to deal with the influx of migrants at the southern border.The sudden wave brought thousands of Haitians to Del Rio, Texas, many gathering near a bridge in the border town as the administration prepared a plan to deal with what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deemed a border crisis.

"I will not be associated with the United States' inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants," Foote said in the letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. The letter was publicly shared Thursday.

a group of people riding on the back of a horse: A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback stops a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Del Rio-Ciudad Acuña International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Sunday. (Paul Ratje / AFP/Getty Images) © (Paul Ratje / AFP/Getty Images) A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback stops a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Del Rio-Ciudad Acuña International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Sunday. (Paul Ratje / AFP/Getty Images)

The Border Patrol also announced it would halt horse patrols after agents were photographed and videotaped threatening migrants at the camp over the weekend, a squalid makeshift site where migrants live in huts they fashioned from reeds plucked from the riverbank. The Rev. Al Sharpton visited Thursday, drawing some counter-protesters.

Haitian deportees start over in country they don’t recognize

  Haitian deportees start over in country they don’t recognize PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Claile Bazile doesn’t know where she and her 2-year-old son will stay once they leave the hotel where officials temporarily set aside rooms for some of the hundreds of people streaming into Haiti after being expelled from the U.S. in the past couple of days. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Haiti last month and killed more than 2,200 people also destroyed her family’s home. “They’re out on theThe 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Haiti last month and killed more than 2,200 people also destroyed her family’s home.

Homeland Security has expelled 1,949 Haitians from the Del Rio camp on 17 flights to Haiti since Sunday, according to a statement it released Thursday. An additional 3,901 Haitians have been moved from the camp to other parts of the border to be expelled or otherwise removed, the statement said, and 3,100 remained at the camp.

Lewis Owens, chief executive of the surrounding Val Verde County — who visits the camp daily — said he hopes it empties by Saturday so that the Del Río-Ciudad Acuña International Bridge can reopen by Monday.

Migrants exit a Border Patrol bus and prepare to be received by the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition after crossing the Rio Grande on Wednesday in Del Rio, Texas. (Brandon Bell / Getty Images) © (Brandon Bell / Getty Images) Migrants exit a Border Patrol bus and prepare to be received by the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition after crossing the Rio Grande on Wednesday in Del Rio, Texas. (Brandon Bell / Getty Images)

“They shouldn’t be here,” he said of the migrants, noting that local residents — some of whom held a protest earlier this week — were upset by the camp.

“They just don’t want them here and can’t figure out why this was allowed to happen,” he said.

Dehoyos wasn’t sure what to make of the Haitian migrants. Before the bridge closed, he had ferried some north to San Antonio, charging his usual fare, $150 for up to five people. They seemed calm, he said.

How did so many Haitian immigrants end up at the southern US border?

  How did so many Haitian immigrants end up at the southern US border? Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said Sunday 3,300 migrants have been removed from the Del Rio Camp either to planes or detention centers since Friday.But how did these Haitian migrants make their way to Texas instead of entering from Florida — a state that's closer to the Caribbean nation?

Taxi driver Juan Dehoyos is losing $1,000 a day due to the border bridge closure in Del Rio, Texas. (Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times) © (Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times) Taxi driver Juan Dehoyos is losing $1,000 a day due to the border bridge closure in Del Rio, Texas. (Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times)

His business was already suffering during the pandemic, as many Mexicans were barred from crossing the border. On Sept. 17, Dehoyos had just picked up a Mexican client and crossed the border to take him to the bus station in Acuña when the bridge closed. He had to drive three hours to the nearest border crossing and didn’t get home until 9 p.m.

Dehoyos was a migrant too. Born across the river in Mexico and trained as a mining engineer, he had to wait two years to get a U.S. visa in 1979. A decade later, he became a U.S. citizen. He said Haitian migrants should have to follow the same process he did.

“When Trump put up the wall, they didn’t come,” Dehoyos said as he stood in the lot, where his grandson was hosing off taxi floor mats. “Then Biden started, and they all came.”

At the same time, the taxi driver said he understands Haitian migrants’ desperation after the earthquake and assassination of their president this summer.

“There’s a lot of need in Haiti. I imagine that’s why they come, because they have to,” he said.

The Rev. Shon Young of City Church Del Rio has been helping the city’s only migrant shelter, Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition, coordinate donations and transportation for the migrants north.

U.S. Protections for Some Haitian Migrants Partially Responsible for Border Surge

  U.S. Protections for Some Haitian Migrants Partially Responsible for Border Surge "We are very concerned that Haitians who are taking the irregular migration path are receiving misinformation that the border is open," said the homeland security secretary.The Biden administration cited security concerns and social unrest in Haiti this spring when it extended temporary protections to some Haitian migrants living in the U.S. The protections were limited only to those who already were living in the U.S. before July 29, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“This is like a roller coaster,” Young said this week as he stood outside the center with several dozen Haitian migrants who had just been released with notices to report to immigration authorities or court at their destinations.

Volunteers gave the migrants backpacks of donated food and toiletries before helping them board charter buses to Houston and San Antonio.

Demonstrators protest the arrival of civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton at the Del Rio International Airport on Thursday in Del Rio, Texas. (Brandon Bell / Getty Images) © (Brandon Bell / Getty Images) Demonstrators protest the arrival of civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton at the Del Rio International Airport on Thursday in Del Rio, Texas. (Brandon Bell / Getty Images)

“We want to get them to a major hub,” Young said.

The Haitian migrants were intent on leaving town, many bound for Florida and New York. After they boarded charter buses out of town this week at the shelter, some erupted in cheers.

Across the street from the shelter at Mario’s Tire Repair on Thursday, tire technician Orlando Aguirre (Mario’s brother) was helping several customers who worked in Acuña and had to commute two hours round-trip due to the bridge closure, including a worker in one of the border factories, or maquiladoras. Aguirre said he noticed an increase in Haitian migrants being released this week, more than 1,000 in Del Rio so far. Dozens more boarded several charter buses outside the shelter Thursday.

“We’re American. We’re trying to be nice,” said Aguirre, 39, as he stood outside his family’s shop wearing a blue uniform and a bandanna over his face as a mask. “You get angry because we’re half Mexican and we’ve been through a lot of things and our families haven’t been helped."

Live updates: Biden vows action for treatment of Haitian migrants; Mayorkas says migrants gone from bridge camp

  Live updates: Biden vows action for treatment of Haitian migrants; Mayorkas says migrants gone from bridge camp Biden vowed action in his first extensive remarks on border patrol agents on horses who chased and seemed to whip Haitian migrants with their reins.“It’s outrageous. I promise you those people will pay. They will be investigated. There will be consequences,” Biden said in response to a reporter's question at the White House.

Aguirre said he knows Haitian migrants who were released were issued orders to report to immigration officials or court, but the process still seemed easier than it had been for his family and neighbors.

"They either come in illegally or it takes years to get it fixed,” he said of their legal status.

At the same time, he said, “It’s sad also. I see those people with their kids outside the shelter. If we were going through something like that, I don’t know that another country would help us.”

Aguirre’s street dead-ends at Trump’s border wall, which he supported. He worried that once the Haitians were released into the U.S. , they would disappear — especially after they left the border.

“It’s going to be harder to find them,” he said.

Aguirre said his neighbors were scared at first by the migrant influx in recent months, but that Gov. Greg Abbott’s surge of state troopers and National Guard troops into the area was reassuring.

“They’re flooding our streets,” with troopers, he said, and smiled.

State troopers this week parked their SUVs in a line along the Rio Grande, a virtual wall blocking new migrants from joining the camp. Late Thursday, a convoy of troopers drove through town, lights flashing and sirens blaring. National Guard troops were also stationed along the river, including where Abbott erected a chain-link and barbed-wire fence earlier this year — the Texas wall.

Chuck Champion lives in a mobile home next to the fence, which he supports, along with the increased deployment of law enforcement.

A line of Texas Department of Safety vehicles lines the bank of the Rio Grande near an encampment of migrants, many from Haiti, on Wednesday in Del Rio, Texas. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press) © (Julio Cortez / Associated Press) A line of Texas Department of Safety vehicles lines the bank of the Rio Grande near an encampment of migrants, many from Haiti, on Wednesday in Del Rio, Texas. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

“It’s been pretty crazy here since Biden allowed everybody to go on through,” Champion, 63, a retired aircraft mechanic at Laughlin, said as he fixed a security light in his yard Thursday. “You do feel safer because they’re here at night when you’re asleep, and they have guns.”

The US owes a debt to Haiti. Why experts say of their shared history led to a migrant crisis on the border

  The US owes a debt to Haiti. Why experts say of their shared history led to a migrant crisis on the border The Biden administration faces backlash for deporting Haitian migrants. Experts say foreign interference has always stunted the country's progress.Instead of providing shelter and refuge for the migrants, the US continued to deport Haitians to Port-au-Prince after years of being targeted by imperialism and xenophobia, and what experts say as history repeating itself.

But the show of force stunned migrant advocates who traveled to Del Rio from Southern California to aid the Haitians on Thursday.

“The police officers are everywhere,” said Wismick Saint Jean, an immigration lawyer from Los Angeles, as he stood with a fellow Haitian American minister near the border bridge being blocked by several state troopers, their lights flashing.

Saint Jean said that, “As Haitians, we are deeply concerned about the treatment we have seen” at the camp, including “people hunted like animals with horses,” but also, “seeing the flagrant violations of constitutional rights, due process, deporting them without their day in court.”

“What are we doing in Del Rio?” he said.

The pair had arrived overnight with other members of San Diego-based Southern Border Communities Coalition.

Liliana Serrano, the group’s co-chair, said the amount of law enforcement she saw in town was, “alarming.” They all carried their passports and other documents in case they were stopped by law enforcement.

“You could feel the fear of not knowing why there’s the need to show that military presence — a lot of guns, a lot of uniforms,” she said. “It’s unfortunate this has become normal on the border. Nobody else in the country has to deal with this. It’s not OK for our government to be treating our communities as a war zone. That is not public safety.”

One plus, she said: Because the Border Patrol has been so overwhelmed processing the Haitian migrants, they closed checkpoints on the local highways where drivers would normally be stopped and questioned about their status.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

The US owes a debt to Haiti. Why experts say of their shared history led to a migrant crisis on the border .
The Biden administration faces backlash for deporting Haitian migrants. Experts say foreign interference has always stunted the country's progress.Instead of providing shelter and refuge for the migrants, the US continued to deport Haitians to Port-au-Prince after years of being targeted by imperialism and xenophobia, and what experts say as history repeating itself.

usr: 1
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