Thousands of Haitian Migrants Are Being Let Into U.S., Official Says
Thousands of migrants who arrived in Del Rio, Texas, are being allowed into the country and must report to immigration officials at a future date, according to an official familiar with the matter.,
Even as the Biden administration deports some Haitian migrants, it is letting in others.
Haitians deported from the United States arrived in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti on Monday.Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times
Sept. 22, 2021, 1:17 p.m. ET
Even as more than 1,000 Haitian migrants were deported between Sunday and Tuesday, thousands of others are being allowed into the United States, sometimes to request asylum — and are being released with instructions to report to immigration officials at a future date.
Faced with an unusually high number of Haitians who began crossing the border into Del Rio, Texas, late last week, the Biden administration responded with high-profile repatriation flights, which officials hope will deter others from making the trip here. There are five flights planned for Wednesday, according to an official familiar with the plans, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and thus spoke on condition of anonymity.
The sudden appearance of thousands of Haitian migrants overwhelmed Border Patrol agents in Del Rio last week. At one point, some 15,000 crammed under and around a bridge in squalid conditions while they waited to be briefly interviewed by border officials. To relieve the overcrowding, the administration has flown many of the migrants to less crowded spots on the southern border; most are being released from Border Patrol custody with a “Notice to Appear” order, which formally enters them into the immigration court system for a deportation hearing — often years away.
Neither the Homeland Security Department nor Customs and Border Protection answered a question on Wednesday about how many of the migrants arriving in Del Rio are being allowed into the country and how many are being deported.
The Biden administration is using an emergency rule that the Trump administration put in place at the beginning of the pandemic to deport the migrants who are being flown back to Haiti. The administration has sought to continue the rule, which critics say is less about preventing the spread of Covid-19 and more about keeping migrants out of the country. For a range of reasons, the rule is not always consistently enforced across the border, which immigration advocates have said is leading to confusion among migrants about trying to enter the United States.
The response to the latest sharp increase in migrants crossing the border illegally has appeared chaotic. The Homeland Security Department is investigating possible mistreatment of some migrants. And the Haitian government has asked the United States for a deportation moratorium out of concerns that the country, battered from natural disasters and political upheaval, cannot handle the number of Haitians being repatriated.
One woman, Joselyne Simeus, a native Haitian who had been living in Chile for seven years, was among the migrants who waded across the Rio Grande last week and crossed illegally into the country with her 5-year-old son, joining the thousands waiting under the bridge. She claimed asylum and called herself “lucky,” because she and her son were not forced to immediately return to Haiti but instead planned to travel to Florida to stay with family.
Many of the migrants, including families who say they are afraid of returning to their countries, are being released by Border Patrol to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and transported to a center where they are fed and interviewed. Some of those who requested asylum are being released with tracking devices on their ankles, according to the official familiar with the matter.
ICE similarly stepped in to help with processing at the end of July and early August, when Border Patrol agents were overwhelmed with a surge of migrants in the Rio Grande Valley.
Edgar Sandoval contributed reporting from Del Rio, Texas.