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Gov. Abbott blames Biden administration’s ‘open border’ policy for Del Rio migrant situation

A Mexican state police detain a Haitian migrant. (Martha Pskowski/ El Paso Times/TNS)
September 26, 2021

Gov. Greg Abbott placed the blame for the influx of migrants camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, squarely on the Biden administration Tuesday.

“Because the Biden administration is doing nothing to secure our border, it has been the state of Texas that has had to step up and address this challenge,” Abbott said during a visit to the border city.

Abbott said there are now 8,600 people, mostly from Haiti, at the encampment on the Rio Grande, which peaked at 14,000. He said that state and federal agencies will not leave the area until it is “fully restored to total control.”

A Mexican state police detain a Haitian migrant in the the city of Ciudad Acuna. (Martha Pskowski/El Paso Times/TNS)

Numbers at the encampment have thinned, as U.S. authorities bused or flew thousands of people a day to other locations for processing and expulsion to their home countries. Others are choosing to return to Mexico, where immigration agents, the National Guard, and state investigative agents have been cracking down on Haitians.

Abbott said the “open border” policy of the Biden administration has encouraged people to come to Del Rio. He had a clear warning for those considering traveling to the border. “If you think about crossing this river in Texas you might end up with handcuffs, going straight to jail,” he said.

Abbott called for ports of entry in Texas to be shut last Thursday. The next day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection closed the Del Rio port of entry to trade and travel. He has also called on the Biden administration to make federal emergency declaration for the state of Texas because of the situation on the border.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses the Haitian migrant crisis Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. (Martha Pskowski/El Paso Times/TNS)

Brandon Judd, President for the National Border Patrol Council, said a group of Haitians being transported by bus on Monday near Kingsville, Texas, “took over the bus” and attempted to escape.

Kleberg County Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick told Corpus Christi ABC affiliate KIII TV 3 a group of migrants being transported from Del Rio to Brownsville on Highway 77 began fighting with Border Patrol agents in an attempt to leave the bus.

He said the migrants were able to leave the bus, but were detained and taken to Brownsville.

Democrats: Border Patrol chasing migrants on horseback ‘horrifying’

Texas Democrats condemned the behavior of mounted Border Patrol agents chasing migrants on horseback Sunday.

“Republicans refuse to recognize the real human suffering behind the political rhetoric and that it will not dissipate behind a wall,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. He called the images of mounted Border Patrol agents chasing migrants “horrifying” and “unacceptable.”

A Mexican state police detain a Haitian migrant in the the city of Ciudad Acuna. (Martha Pskowski/El Paso Times/TNS)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the treatment of the migrants “horrible” on Twitter and called on the Biden administration to put an immediate halt to the expulsions.

Detentions increase in Mexico

Mexican authorities began rounding up Haitians in a crackdown that involved law enforcement at every level of government. Convoys of local police, Coahuila state investigative agents, Mexico’s federal immigration agency and the National Guard patrolled the streets of Ciudad Acuña on Monday and early Tuesday.

Agents loaded migrants into vans with the insignia of the country’s immigration agency, the Instituto Nacional Mexicano de Migración (INM).

Mexico’s foreign ministry didn’t respond to requests for information about the apparent roundups.

Few details on expulsions to Haiti

Drone footage shot Tuesday showed that the population at the encampment had thinned significantly since the weekend. U.S. authorities are relocating thousands of people a day to other sites for processing. Six expulsion flights were expected to land in Haiti on Tuesday.

A Mexican state police detain a Haitian migrant in the the city of Ciudad Acuna. (Martha Pskowski/El Paso Times/TNS)

According to El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, some of the Haitian migrants are being transported from Del Rio to El Paso for processing. Some 1,500 have arrived in El Paso since Friday. They will be detained in El Paso until they are put on expulsion flights to Haiti.

Earlier in the year, the Biden administration issued Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, protecting those who had been in the country before July 29 from deportation. However, those who arrived to the U.S. after that date, or are waiting on the border now, are not protected. Haitians congregated in Del Rio are being processed under Title 42, which allows for rapid expulsions without the opportunity to seek asylum.

Border closure stretches to four days

Since Friday evening, traffic through the Del Rio Port of Entry, which connects Del Rio to Ciudad Acuña, has been rerouted 57 miles east to the Eagle Pass Port of Entry. Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano said Tuesday that the Port of Entry may reopen with 48 to 96 hours, depending on the security situation.

U.S. Border Patrol agents deter Haitians from returning to the U.S. on the bank of the Rio Grande (Martha Pskowski/El Paso Times/TNS)

At the Eagle Pass Port of Entry, Mexican immigration (INM) agents had added an extra layer of security and asked pedestrians for identification.

An INM agent who asked not to be named said the agency wants to make sure no unauthorized migrants can make their way on the bridge. INM agents said although traffic has slowed, the Mexican agency is getting ready for another wave of migrants to head to Del Rio, Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña in Mexico.

While nonessential travel into the United States is still prohibited, many residents of the border cities cross back and forth on a regular basis. Cross-border commerce fuels the local economy. There are over 50 maquiladora plants in the area, including Oster, General Electric and Oster, that depend on border access, according to the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce.

Luis Angel Urraza, the director of the Ciudad Acuña National Business Conference (CANACO) told Mexican media that the indefinite closure of the Del Rio Port of Entry had impacted imports and exports, medical tourism, hotels and restaurants.

“We need the bridge to be open for the cities to function,” he said. “They don’t function alone.”


© 2021

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.