DEL RIO, Texas — As thousands of Haitian migrants camp under the bridge in Del Rio, the U.S. government is reiterating its position.
The migrants may have taken the trip and risked their lives for nothing, just to be returned back.
Now, a joint effort of federal, state, and local agencies is starting to make an impact on the dire situation, dangerous for both migrants and law enforcement.
A line of Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles forms a barricade on Monday along the Rio Grande in Del Rio.
It’s a stark contrast to same location, where on Friday our cameras saw thousands of migrants using a dam to cross from Mexico into the U.S.
“I've never seen nothing like this in my career, even in the Rio Grande Valley. I mean, you see thousands of people that are coming across every day, but nothing like this. You see the conditions, families that are sleeping on the floor, on the dirt,” said Lt. Chris Olivares with DPS.
Olivares said hundreds of DPS troopers have been deployed to Del Rio to help with the humanitarian crisis unfolding under the International Bridge.
“There's hundreds of troopers here around the clock providing 24-hour coverage, and if they weren't here, we would still see that constant surge of migrants coming across the river, but we've been able to stop that flow as of Saturday,” said Olivares.
As of Monday evening, city officials said over 10,000 Haitian migrants are still encamped under the bridge, down from nearly 15,000 last week.
“We’re achieving our goals we're getting there and getting to a point where we can manage a population here,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief, Raul Ortiz in a press conference at the Del Rio Port of Entry on Monday. “We are already seeing it quickly diminish, and we'll continue to see that over the coming days.”
Ortiz said in the last few days, thousands of migrants have been bussed to processing facilities, and thousands more returned to Haiti.
“The majority of migrants, continue to be expelled under CDC's Title 42 authority,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “Those who cannot be expelled under that authority, and do not have a legal basis to remain will be placed in expedited removal proceedings. DHS is conducting regular expulsion and removal flights to Haiti, Mexico, Ecuador, and Northern Triangle countries.”
Mayorkas was in Del Rio Monday visiting the encampment under the bridge, and said the situation is “heartbreaking and tragic.”
Mayorkas said 600 federal agents have also been sent to the area to help manage the surge.
He sent a strong message to potential migrants.
“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family's lives,” said Mayorkas.
With the International Bridge still shut down, Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano said he hopes the joint efforts of local, state, and federal authorities will make an impact on the situation that has already overwhelmed his community.
“There's so much camaraderie and there's so much working together right now happening in real time that it just really took that stewardship of understanding what's on the ground,” said Lozano.