More than 10,000 Haitian migrants seeking shelter under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas will be deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to reports by NBC News.
ICE is scheduled to fly eight deportation flights to Haiti with plans to increase the number to 10 per week. Over the past few days, deportation flights began in response to the large number of Haitians entering the U.S. One single deportation flight can hold around 135 migrants, Department of Homeland Security officials said.
“This temporary closure and shift is necessary in order for CBP to respond to urgent safety and security needs presented by an influx of migrants into Del Rio and is effective immediately,” the agency noted. “It will advance and protect national interests and help ensure the safety of the traveling public, commercial traffic, and CBP employees and facilities.”
According to Homeland Security, many of the Haitian migrants have not come from their homeland but have been living in South America. Because they cannot be deported back to South America, they’ll be sent to Haiti, where most have not lived for several years. The country has been devastated by political turmoil and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that has killed thousands.
As deportation efforts have stepped up, the officials of Haiti are protesting the U.S. sending migrants back to the island country, reports the New York Times. Over the next three weeks, over 14,000 Haitians are expected to make their way back after being expelled from the U.S.
Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, head of Haiti’s national migration office, explained the arduous situation the county is now in.
“We are here to say welcome. They can come back and stay in Haiti, but they are very agitated,” Bonheur Delva said. “They don’t accept the forced return.”
Officials were preparing to receive three flights of migrants on Sunday.
“The Haitian state is not really able to receive these deportees,” Bonheur Delva said.
“I am asking for a humanitarian moratorium,” he added. “The situation is very difficult.”
As women, men, and children arrive in Haiti, they’ll arrive in a country that lacks the resources and infrastructure to adequately accommodate them. Bonheur Delva added that because of “ongoing security issues,” it would be impossible to handle such a large influx of people. The country does not have the ability to provide protection or food for those who have returned.
On Sunday, after being processed, the migrants were given rice and beans in Styrofoam containers and the government planned to give them $100 each. After that, they must find their own way.
The Haitian Bridge Alliance, an advocacy organization, has said the Biden administration should not be deporting Haitians “without offering them legal protection and the opportunity to apply for asylum.”