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Haiti - FLASH : Joe Biden orders the deportation of thousands of illegal Haitian migrants
"The vast majority of migrants present are Haitians," said Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens, whose jurisdiction includes Del Rio, adding "Some families have been under the bridge for six days [...] at least two women have gave birth, including one who tested positive for Covid-19 after being taken to hospital."
County Sheriff Frank Joe Martinez estimated the number of migrants at 13,700 mostly Haitian people and estimated that these migrants appear to be part of a larger wave of Haitians but also migrants from Honduras, Venezuela and El Salvador among others, who are heading for the American border.
The strategy of the Biden Administration is to send migrants back to their country of origin or to the country from which they left on several daily flights. Note that unaccompanied minors are excluded from expedited deportations.
"DHS will guarantee additional transport to accelerate the pace and increase the capacity of return flights to Haiti and other destinations in the next 72 hours [...] Transfers will continue in accordance with our laws and policies," explained Marsha Espinosa, Spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a statement, adding that the department was working with countries where migrants had started their journey, such as Brazil and Chile, to accept deported migrants.
In addition, DHS said that customs and border protection have sent several hundred reinforcement agents in order to dismantle the makeshift camp of Del Río where migrants have pitched tents and built makeshift shelters from of giant reeds.
The United States began this Sunday to expel several of the dozens of Haitians from the makeshift camp under a bridge in Del Rio. 3 flights were planned two from the airport in the city of San Antonio and another from the border of Laredo.
Of the three planned flights, only two have left, said Jean Négot Bonheur Delva, coordinator of the National Migration Office, who specifies that all flights were initially supposed to carry 145 passengers, but that only 98 Haitians were on the first flight and 110 on the second. A total of 208 Haitians who tried to enter the United States illegally were returned to Haiti on Sunday, in a socio-political and economic context marked by an acute crisis and extreme violence.
An US administration official on condition of anonymity said he expected a maximum of two flights per day and said all migrants would be tested for COVID-19. However, DHS announces that the capacity and pace of migrant transfer flights to Haiti and other countries in the hemisphere will be increased in the next 72 hours. The Biden administration has ordered relevant agencies to work with the Government of Haiti to address the situation.
After the announcement, a volunteer who requested anonymity from the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition, the only organization in the region that helps irregular migrants, said the news hit Haitians "like a slap in the face".
Bridgette Gomez, Campaign Director of the organization "We Are Home", said the return to Haiti for these migrants is "inconceivable" as the country "is going through a serious socio-political crisis and unprecedented increasing violence."
Guerline Jozef, co-founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said she was "totally in disbelief" at President Biden's decision recalling that hours after the earthquake, Biden issued a statement saying "United remain a close and lasting friend of the Haitian people." "A friend does not continually inflict pain on another friend" underlines Guerline Jozef
"The Embassy of Haiti in Wasington follows with deep sadness the unfolding of the situation of Haitian migrants on the US-Mexico border. We have already written to DHS regarding this issue and are currently working with organizations that help migrants on the ground," said Ambassador of Haiti Bocchit Edmond
In Haiti, Prime Minister Ariel Henry declared "We are very concerned about the extremely difficult conditions in which several thousand of our compatriots live on the US-Mexico border. While renewing our full solidarity with them, we want to assure them that arrangements have already been made to offer them a better reception on their return to the country and that they will not be left behind. Se fok nou mete tèt nou ansanm pou nou bay peyi a yon chans pou frè ak sè nou yo pa kontinye pran kalite imilyasion sa yo. I share their suffering, while telling them Welcome home. Lakay se lakay."
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SL/ S/ HaitiLibre