DEL RIO, Texas — U.S. officials say many Haitian migrants camped in a small Texas border town are being released in the United States, undercutting the Biden administration’s public statements that Haitians who enter the country illegally face immediate expulsion.
One official says Haitians have been freed on a “very, very large scale” in recent days, many of them with notices to appear at an immigration office.
According to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press, many of those who have been released into the U.S. have been given a notice to appear at an immigration office within 60 days, an outcome that requires less processing time from Border Patrol agents than ordering an appearance in immigration court.
The releases come after the Biden administration began putting some migrants on planes and flying them back to Haiti. Video clips also show law enforcement agents pushing some migrants away from the border and back into Mexico.
At least one video has shown mounted border agents using long leather reigns to lash at migrants in an attempt to push them back. The Department of Homeland Security says that the incident is under investigation.
In recent days, thousands of Haitians have gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border near Del Rio, Texas, as they try to flee their earthquake and storm-ravaged country. The island nation has also been gripped with systemic poverty and gang violence in recent years.
About 12,000 migrants have camped around a bridge in Del Rio after crossing the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Those at the camps have faced a lack of food and scorching temperatures in recent days.