By Alexander Ulmer | Reuters
CIUDAD ACUÑA, Mexico – Thousands of migrants have gathered under bridges connecting Del Rio, Texas and Mexico’s Ciudad Acuña, setting up a makeshift camp with several basic services in the scorching heat of the recent border emergency in the face of President Joe Biden.
Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano said 10,503 migrants were under the Del Rio International Bridge as of Thursday evening, up from 8,200 in the morning.
Food and water are in short supply, about 20 migrants told Reuters, and temperatures have risen to around Fahrenheit (Celsius). Reuters says hundreds of immigrants have been forced to cross the river into Rio Grande and back into Mexico, saying they are not accepting the American side.
Immigrants mostly Haitians, Cubans, Venezuela and Nicaraguans are also present.
Biden’s reflection on the humanitarian challenges he faces is reflected in his 20-year high at the border. U.S. authorities arrested more than 1,195,000 immigrants at the Mexican border in August, according to official data released Wednesday.
Morning1-year-old Haitian immigrant Ernesto returned to Mexico on Thursday to buy water and food-the fourth time since arriving in the United States on Monday morning, he said. Ernesto, who refused to give her the title to protect her identity, said she and her 3-year-old daughter were not fed into the camp, where immigrants are shouting for shade.
Sometimes, he said, he ran to avoid Mexican immigration officials but was not usually bothered by them. “But now the money is running out,” he added.
The immigrants showed Reuters tickets with numbers obtained from the U.S. Border Patrol. Many said other migrants told them they could stay in the camp for up to five days.
Border Patrol said in a statement that it was increasing staff in Del Rio to facilitate a “safe, humane and orderly process.” Drinking water, towels and portable toilets have been provided, the statement added, while migrants are waiting for transportation to the facility.
Biden, a Democrat who took office in January, withdrew the harsh immigration measures of his Republican predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
But he has been caught between pro-immigrant groups and some Democrats who have criticized him for not doing more to help immigrants and those who have said his policy has encouraged illegal immigration.
Del Rio is in Val Verde County, which voted for Trump in 2020. Some residents of this vast, bilingual border town say they feel abandoned by the federal government for border protection.
“Are they doing anything to stop them coming?” A woman said as she looked at the tent as she drove over the bridge.
“When are we leaving?”
Carlos, a 27-year-old Venezuelan who said he left home after graduating from university in July, said he thought the camp had doubled since Tuesday. Carlos, who declined to give his full name, said he has only ড 10 left, and has 400 families before him in line for processing.
Immigration and Mexican officials both said more people were expected in the coming days. Some told Reuters they chose to cross here because the river was shallow and they felt there was relatively little cartel activity.
Haifian Jeff Zion, 27, who was selling water bottles for 3 pesos (15 percent) profit, said he and his young family were tired, hungry and sleeping on the ground. She was worried about her children falling ill in the makeshift camp.
“My ten-year-old asks: ‘When are we leaving?’ He always asks that. ”