North America

Migrants from Haiti homeward bound as U.S. begins flights from Texas

Published : September 20, 2021 13:42 IST

U.S. authorities have closed a bridge where thousands of Haitian migrants created a makeshift camp. Photo: Eric Gay/AP Photo/picture alliance

Three flights carrying Haitians have reportedly left Texas for Port-au-Prince after an influx of border crossings.

The United States on September 19 began flying out some of the thousands of Haitian migrants who had crossed into a Texas border camp, according to media reports. A U.S. official told the Associated Press news agency that three flights left Texas for the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on September 19.

Tom Cartwright of the advocacy group Witness at the Border, which tracks U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement flights, also told Reuters news agency that three flights carrying Haitians to Haiti departed from two different Texas airports. A large number of buses arrived on September 19 in Del Rio in Texas, and "many, many more'' were coming to transfer Haitians to expulsion flights, U.S. immigration detention centers and Border Patrol holding facilities, the AP reported.

What is the situation in Del Rio?

Many of the migrants were seeking asylum in the U.S. amid Haiti's dire economic situation and political instability after President Jovenel Moise's assassination. The sudden arrival of large groups of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, a city of about 35,000 people, had prompted the U.S.' response. On September 17, Del Rio's mayor declared a state of emergency after more than 10,000 undocumented migrants poured into the Texas border town.

U.S. border officials said they were closing the Del Rio border crossing following the arrival of the Haitian migrants, many of whom were being held under a bridge controlled by the U.S. authorities to await processing.

What did Haiti's authorities say?

The Haitian government expressed concern over the "difficult" situation of the thousands of migrants in Del Rio. "We are very concerned about the extremely difficult conditions in which several thousand of our compatriots live on the border between the United States and Mexico," Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry said on Twitter. "As we renew our full solidarity with them, we want to assure them that steps have already been taken to offer them a better welcome upon their return to the country," he added.

Henry promised that they "will not be left behind," welcoming them with a proverb widely used by Haitians: "Lakay se Lakay [The house is still the house]."

fb/jlw (AP, LUSA, EFE, Reuters)

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