Plans are not finalized yet, but officials are considering five to eight flights a day. San Antonio, the nearest major city, may be one of the departure cities. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The flights are a quick and exciting response to the thousands of Haitian immigrants who have gathered under or around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
The United States is expelling many Central American citizens to Mexico under an epidemic-related authority that denies migrants the opportunity to seek asylum. But the Mexican authorities will not accept Haitians and other nationalities.
The US Customs and Border Protection said it closed vehicular and pedestrian traffic in both directions on the Del Rio Bridge.
Thousands of Haitian immigrants gathered under and around a bridge in a small Texas border town as chaos spread Friday and faced the Biden administration with a new challenge as it tries to manage large numbers of asylum seekers arriving on US soil.
The Rio Grande crossed freely and in constant flow, navigating back and forth between the United States and Mexico through deep waters with some parents carrying small children on their shoulders. Unable to purchase supplies in the United States, they briefly returned to Mexico for food and cartons to settle, at least temporarily, under or near the bridge in del Rio, a city of 35,000 that has been strained by migrant flows in the months Last.
Migrants pitched tents and built temporary shelters from giant reeds known as carrizo canes. I bathed and washed a lot of clothes in the river.
The vast majority of the 12,000 migrants on the bridge on Friday were Haitians, Val Verde County Judge Luis Owens, the county’s top elected official that includes the state of Del Rio, said. Some families were under the bridge for six days.
Owens said the piles of trash were 10 feet (3.1 meters) wide and gave birth to at least two women, including one who tested positive for COVID-19 after being hospitalized.
Haitians have been immigrating to the United States in large numbers from South America for several years, many of whom left the Caribbean nation after a devastating earthquake in 2010. With jobs dried up from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made it dangerous. A walking trip by bus and car to the US border, including through the infamous Darren Gap, a Panamanian jungle.
It is unclear how so many gathered so quickly, although many Haitians were gathering in camps on the Mexican side of the border, including in Tijuana, across from San Diego, to wait while they decided whether to try to enter the states United.
The Federal Aviation Administration, at the request of the Border Patrol, has restricted drone flights around the bridge until September 30, generally prohibiting operations at or less than 1,000 feet (305 meters) unless for security or law enforcement purposes.
Some of the Haitians in the camp have been living in Mexican cities on the US border for some time, and move frequently between them, said Nicole Phillips, legal director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance group, while others arrived recently after getting stuck near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala. . The sense of desperation spread after the Biden administration ended its practice of accepting immigrants seeking asylum on a daily basis who were considered particularly vulnerable.
“People are freaking out about how they are going to get shelter,” Phillips said.
Edgar Rodriguez, a lawyer for the Casa del Migrante Migrant Shelter in Piedras Negras, north of Del Rio, noted an increase in the number of Haitians in the area two or three weeks ago and believes that disinformation may have played a role. Immigrants often make decisions about false rumors that policies are about to change and enforcement policies vary by city.
US authorities are being severely tested after President Joe Biden quickly dismantled Trump administration policies that Biden deemed cruel or inhumane, most notably those requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting US immigration court hearings. These immigrants were subjected to extreme violence in Mexico and had extraordinary difficulty finding lawyers.
The US Supreme Court last month allowed a judge’s order to reinstate the policy to be blocked, although Mexico must agree to its terms. The Justice Department said in a lawsuit this week that discussions with the Mexican government are continuing.
The pandemic order to immediately expel migrants without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum that was filed in March 2020 is still in effect, but unaccompanied children and many families have been exempted. During his first month in office, Biden chose to exempt children from traveling alone on humanitarian grounds.
The US government was unable to expel many of the Central American families because Mexican authorities largely refused to accept them into the state of Tamaulipas, which is across from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the busiest passage for illegal crossings. On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington prevented the administration from applying Title 42, as the authority regarding the pandemic is known, to any family.
Mexico agreed to take in only families expelled from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, creating an opportunity for Haitians and other nationalities because the United States lacked the resources to detain them and quickly expel them on flights back home.
In August, US authorities stopped immigrants nearly 209,000 times at the border, nearly a 20-year high even though many of the stops involved repeat crossings because there are no legal consequences for expelling them under Title 42.
People crossing their families were stopped 86,487 times in August, but less than one in five of those encounters resulted in expulsion under Title 42. The rest were processed under immigration laws, which usually means they were released with a court date or a notice to inform immigration authorities.
US authorities arrested Haitians 7,580 times in August, a number that has increased every month since August 2020, when they arrested just 55 people. There have also been significant increases in Ecuadoreans, Venezuelans, and other nationalities outside the traditional sending countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Immigration judges have decided in more than 32,000 cases of Haitians seeking asylum since 2001, and have rejected the petitions about 80% of the time, according to data compiled by the Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.