WORLD NEWS

How did Haitians end up at the US border in Del Rio, Texas?

When the border was closed, the migrants found other ways to cross nearby until they were confronted by federal and state law enforcement.

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How did Haitians end up at the US border in Del Rio, Texas?
ADREES LATIF REUTERS

Thousands of Haitian immigrants at Del Rio, Texas are awaiting deportation from US authorities or will stay put and seek asylum.

How have Haitian migrants made their way to Texas instead of entering from Florida, a state that's closer to the Caribbean nation?

Haiti's devastating earthquake

Haitians have been migrating to the US from South America for several years. Many left their Caribbean country after a devastating 2010 earthquake displaced more than 1.5 million people from the island.

The exodus of Haitian people fleeing the country can also be attributed to a “staggering increase in human rights violations” in Haiti within the past decade, according to Gabrielle Apollon, the co-director of the Haiti Mining Justice and International Accountability Project.

Alternative route for Haitians

Haitians pointed to the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a recent destructive earthquake, both this year, in their homeland as reasons why they are fearful of returning to Haiti.

Karla M. McKanders, an immigration law expert at Vanderbilt University, said Haitian migration through Texas is not a new phenomenon. "It's important for people to recognize that Haitian nationals have been using this alternative route to get to the southern border for a few years, maybe even a little bit more than that," McKanders said.

Migrants sent home

Over 320 migrants Haitians were flown back to Port-au-Prince on three flights Sunday, and Haiti says it is expecting six flights Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. In all, US authorities moved to expel many of the more 12,000 migrants camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.

The US plans to begin seven expulsion flights daily on Wednesday, four to Port-au-Prince and three to Cap-Haitien, according to a US official. Flights will continue to depart from San Antonio but authorities may add El Paso, the official said.

When the border was closed Sunday, the migrants initially found other ways to cross nearby until they were confronted by federal and state law enforcement. Many were stopped by Border Patrol agents on horseback.

Former US President Donald Trump enacted Title 42, which allowed for quick expulsion of asylum seekers to prevent the spread of covid-19 in holding facilities last year. President Joe Biden continued the policy, however, children and some families are exempt.

Texas border

For three weeks, migrants have crossed the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas. Mexican authorities have also blocked entry to Ciudad Acuña and will start deporting Haitians. Mexico only accepts migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas visited Del Rio on Monday and said an additional 600 Homeland Security personnel have been sent there.