More than 8,000 irregular immigrants, mostly Haitian, are being held by authorities in a makeshift camp in South Texas after a massive border crossing.
The migrants have been crossing into the United States since Tuesday through the Del Rio area (Texas) and have overwhelmed the immigration authorities, who have improvised the camp under the international bridge that connects with Ciudad Acuña (Mexico) while waiting to process asylum applications.
These more than 8,000 migrants, according to local authorities, are sleeping in the open and lack basic services, conditions that threaten to create a new humanitarian emergency on the southern border.
The Texas-Mexico border has seen record numbers of irregular migrant arrivals since Joe Biden took office last January and has already been the focus of a political crisis for the new president.
The U.S. Border Patrol has sent reinforcements to the Del Rio sector to manage the camp and in the face of uncertainty that more migrants may cross in the coming days.
“To prevent injuries from heat-related illness, the shaded area underneath Del Rio International Bridge is serving as a temporary staging site while migrants wait to be taken into USBP custody,” the Border Patrol said in a statement.
The governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, announced Thursday the closure of six border crossing points with Mexico, although he later reversed himself and said that state agents will only be present to reduce arrivals.
Del Rio Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano, a Democrat, urged Gov. Joe Biden’s administration to “recognize that there is a real time border crisis happening right now with serious health and safety consequences.”
Lozano, who called the camp a “slum,” also warned that if agents are concentrated at this point, the rest of the 240-mile (400-kilometer) sector is being left unattended.
“Who is guarding the rest of the sector?” he said, in remarks reported by The Washington Post.
Washington has reduced deportation flights to Haiti since the crisis triggered by the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Some 30,000 Haitians had crossed into the United States in the last year according to official data.