More than 10,000 migrants have been living under a bridge on the Mexico-Texas border, under increasingly squalid conditions. The migrants, mostly from Haiti, have crossed the Rio Grande and are desperate for help from the United States government.
The bridge is between Rio Grande and Mexico’s Ciudad Acura, and while the space has been equipped with toilets, the sheer number of migrants is leading to a humanitarian crisis. More and more people are flooding in every day, while U.S. Border Patrol agents attempting to step up their presence at the location.
The temperature often reaches 100 degrees in the makeshift camp, with migrants heading back to Mexico to obtain as many supplies as possible before returning. While the majority of the migrants are from Haiti, some are also from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
Migrants overwhelm U.S. Border Patrol
The United States Border patrol has given a response to concerns about the unsafe conditions. “To prevent injuries from heat-related illness, the shaded area underneath Del Rio International Bridge is serving as a temporary staging site while migrants wait to be taken into USBP [US Border Patrol] custody.”
Meanwhile, the sheer number of migrants is increasing daily. Said one man, Ramses Colon, who is seeking asylum from Cuba, “You stand there among thousands with your little ticket waiting for your turn.” The tickets include numbers for the refugees to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol.
Biden begins deporting Haitian migrants
While people are given emergency water, and formula for infants, the migrants are packed together, with no COVID-19 testing except in cases of severe symptoms. Border Patrol did not answer why they are not testing more migrants for the potentially deadly virus, which runs amok when people are unable to socially distance themselves.
Meanwhile, public officials state that the United States Border Patrol is currently “overwhelmed.”
After assuming office, President Biden granted Temporary Protected Status to Haitians already living in the U.S. due to conditions in Haiti, including political unrest and natural disasters. However, the order does not apply to new arrivals to the United States. Many migrants have already been deported back to Haiti, angering advocates who believe that people are not being given a fair chance to obtain asylum.
The Biden administration is now planning to expel all Haitian migrants from their makeshift camp, in an effort to mitigate the growing humanitarian crisis at the border. The border has been closed to travelers, and all migrants will be tested for Covid19 prior to being flown back to Haiti and other countries.
Impossible choices for migrants
Migrants, living among trash piles up to 10 feet wide, have a choice to either return to their home country, facing political unrest and brutality, or go to Mexico while they await the asylum process. Children are exempt from being expelled from the camp.
Advocates for immigration are appalled at the Biden administration’s decision to put off processing asylum-seekers, although many admit the situation is tenuous and calls for drastic measures. And the migrants themselves face dire straits as neither choice helps them avoid crises at home.
“People are panicking on how they seek refuge,” said Nicole Phillips, the legal director for advocacy group Haitian Bridge Alliance.
More than 320 migrants arrived in Port-au-Prince on three flights Sunday, and Haiti said six flights were expected Tuesday.