Thousands of migrants have set up a makeshift camp on the US side of the southern border, under a bridge connecting Texas to Mexico.
Late Thursday, the mayor of Del Rio Texas said 10,503 migrants were under the Del Rio International Bridge that connects to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, up from 8,200 in the morning.
Those remaining in the camp have told reporters that food and water are in short supply, with some wading down the Rio Grande and returning to Mexico to stock up on essentials they say they don’t get from the US side.
Many have told reporters that they have received fines from US border officials and are awaiting prosecution.
Jeff Jeune, a 27-year-old Haitian who sold bottles of water for 3 pesos (15 cents) of profit, told the Reuters news agency that he and his young family were exhausted, hungry and sleeping on the floor. He was concerned that his children would get sick at the makeshift camp.
“My 10-year-old son asks, ‘When are we leaving?’ He always asks that, ”he said.
The migrants are mostly Haitian, and authorities and human rights groups say they are likely part of a new wave of migrants heading north after being displaced to South American countries in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. .
Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans were also present in the group, which represents the most recent crisis on the border for US President Joe Biden.
Del Rio Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano described the situation as a “worst case of worst case scenario,” according to The Washington Post.
“I need the administration to recognize that there is a border crisis in real time right now and that it has dire consequences for safety, health and safety,” he said, adding that many of the migrants arrived in buses that appear to be part of an operation against smuggling.
Meanwhile, US Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement that the agency was increasing staffing at Del Rio to facilitate a “safe, humane and orderly process.”
Drinking water, towels and portable toilets have been provided, the statement added, as the migrants wait to be transported to the facilities.
The Biden administration has promised a more humane approach to migration than former President Donald Trump’s hardline policies, but has faced political backlash over an increase in crossings.
The administration has continued to use a public health order, citing the coronavirus, to turn people away at the border, though a federal judge on Thursday blocked the use of the rule to turn away those who cross the border. The ruling will take effect in two weeks.
Before that, the percentage of migrants sent back to Mexico under the rule has gradually decreased in recent months.
The US Supreme Court also recently ruled that the Biden administration must restart the so-called “Stay in Mexico” policy created under Trump.
Biden officials had tried to end the program, which requires asylum seekers in the United States to wait in Mexico, often in squalid and crime-ridden camps, for their cases to be prosecuted.
‘When do we go?’
Ernesto, a 31-year-old migrant from Haiti, returned to Mexico on Thursday to buy food and water for the fourth time, he said, since arriving in the United States on Monday morning.
Ernesto, who declined to give his last name to protect his identity, told Reuters that he and his three-year-old daughter had not been fed at the camp, where migrants dispute the shade.
Sometimes, he said, he runs to avoid Mexican immigration officials, but they usually don’t bother him.
“But now the money is running out,” he added.
Carlos, a 27-year-old Venezuelan who said he left home after graduating from college in July, said he thought the camp had doubled in size since he arrived Tuesday.
Carlos, who declined to give his full name, told Reuters he only had $ 10 left and that there were 400 families ahead of him in line for processing.
Both migrants and Mexican officials said many more people are expected in the coming days.