September 20 (WNN) — DEL RIO, Texas — US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyerkas sent a message on Monday to migrants, especially Haitians, who were trying to enter the country through the Southwest border: “Illegal in the United States.” People coming from the form will be returned, your journey will not be successful.”
Mayerkas’ remarks in Del Rio came at a time when lawmakers and immigrants rights advocates condemned the treatment of some Haitians by Border Patrol agents. Images and videos taken by journalists and shared widely on social media show agents riding horses and attempting to cross the Rio Grande, with an agent turning his reins toward a migrant.
On Monday, Meyerkas denied that agents had whipped anyone, but said officials would “check the facts.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki condemned the agent’s actions at a news conference in Washington, DC on Monday: “I don’t think anyone looking at that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate,” she said.
US representative Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, called the agent’s behavior “unacceptable” in a tweet. “No matter how challenging the situation in Del Rio is at this time, nothing justifies violence against migrants seeking asylum in our country,” he tweeted.
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a Texas immigrant rights organization, compared the behavior of agents during the post-Civil War era to the Ku Klux Klan.
Nicole Morgan, an attorney for RAICES, said in a statement, “Inhuman and degrading treatment by the government through the use of legislative and police powers is not new to black people in America.”
The controversy comes as the federal government has sent reinforcements to Del Rio to deal with 15,000 migrants camping under an international bridge connecting the city to Mexico in hopes of requesting asylum in the US.
Mayercas said 3,500 migrants have been moved from Del Rio to other processing centers and the goal is to move another 3,000.
Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens has said that with little food, water or sanitation products, some migrants have passed out from dehydration and at least five have given birth in Del Rio hospitals.
Repatriation flights to Haiti and other countries of origin began on Sunday. Meyerkas said the goal is one to three flights a day.
He said most migrants are being expelled under Title 42, the pandemic health order issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year, allowing refugees to rapidly evacuate migrants to Mexico or their home countries without the opportunity to seek asylum. For. A federal judge last week barred the Biden administration from using Title 42 to evacuate migrant families, but stayed the order for 14 days. The Biden administration appealed that decision on Friday.
A month after the assassination of Haiti’s president, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck in August – the latest tragedy for a country plagued by political instability and turmoil.
“We are deeply concerned that Haitians following this erratic migration path may be receiving false information that the border is open or that temporary protected status is available,” Meyerkas said. “I want to make sure it is known that this is not the way to come to the United States.”
In South American countries such as Bolivia or Chile, some Haitians decided to flee their country after the assassination of the president. Some of them are attempting to reunite with families who immigrated to the United States.
Many migrants say they decided to enter from Del Rio because the route was safer than in other parts of Mexico. Others said they were following the crowd.
Texas Government Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday requesting that the federal government issue an emergency declaration for Texas due to the increasing number of migrants under the Del Rio Bridge.
Abbott said in a statement, “This surge poses a threat to life for residents of Val Verde County and is quickly draining law enforcement and health care and human resources that are never intended to be used in this capacity.” was not.” “Even with limited federal resources in the area, the large numbers of individuals entering Texas illegally are strained.”
Abbott announced $100 million in state grants for municipal governments at the border to expedite law enforcement actions and cover the cost of detaining and prosecuting migrants and handling bodies of migrants found at the border. helped cover.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune. Read the original here. The Texas Tribune is a non-profit, non-partisan media organization that informs – and engages with – Texans about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.