President Biden is getting a lot of heat for the way his administration is processing the roughly 15,000 Haitians who amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas, earlier this month. The Department of Homeland Security is flying hundreds of Haitians back to their chaotic homeland, even though most of them appear to have traveled to the U.S. border from long residencies in South America, and releasing hundreds more into the U.S. with orders to appear before immigration judges.
"On the ground in terms of who gets paroled into the country and who gets expelled, it seems like that's subjective," says Politico's Jack Herrera, who spent several days in Del Rio reporting on the "draconian" situation. "Decisions are being made on the ground by Border Patrol agents. It's not a very clear chain of command. When that happens, you get a bizarre mix of deterrents and random mercy." He said there now appears to be about 5,000 people left in the makeshift camps under the bridge between Del Rio and Mexico's Ciudad Acuña, adding, "It's still a zoo though."
But there's also the question of why so many migrants, mostly Haitians, showed up at the Acuña border crossing all at once. That date, Sept. 16, appears to be important.
"From my interviews with some Haitian migrants as well as with the attorneys who have interviewed a lot of these folks it seems like it was a complicated rumor that people were being allowed to cross the border in Del Rio," Herrera told Politico's Nightly newsletter "The reason they all arrived on the same day was actually they arrived on Mexican Independence Day. Because Mexican immigration authorities have been cracking down on movement throughout the region, migrants figured that during the Independence Day celebration, they would be distracted and it'd be easier to travel."