Some 3,300 migrants have already been removed from the Del Rio camp to planes or detention centers, Border Patrol Chief Raul L. Ortiz said at a news conference Sunday, and he expected to have 3,000 of approximately 12,600 additional migrants moved within a day. The rest should be gone within the week, he said.
“We are working around the clock to expeditiously move migrants out of the heat, elements and from underneath this bridge to our processing facilities in order to quickly process and remove individuals from the United States consistent with our laws and our policies,” Ortiz said.
Meanwhile, more Haitian migrants appeared to be arriving at the border, undeterred by the U.S. plan.
The influx at the border outpost 145 miles west of San Antonio has come since the U.S. temporarily halted expulsions to Haiti last month following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, which struck a month after Haiti’s president was assassinated.
Nearly 28,000 Haitians have been intercepted by the Border Patrol for the fiscal year that ends this month, compared with 4,395 last fiscal year and 2,046 the year before. More were in camps in southern Mexico.
Del Rio Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano, a Democrat, declared a local state of emergency on Friday and announced authorities were closing the port of entry. He warned that with more migrants on the way, the camp was expected to reach 20,000 — which, in a city of 35,000, has already prompted an anti-immigrant protest.
Haitian migrants have not pushed north into town, instead moving back and forth across the river to buy food and other supplies in Ciudad Acuna. Late Saturday, U.S. officials attempted to cut off access to Mexico, confining migrants to the camp. But migrant camp inhabitants and new arrivals continued to wade north across the shallows, the newest ones turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents and receiving blue numbered tickets they hoped would allow them to claim asylum.
Desterville, whose number was 11,240, said that the Border Patrol separated migrants when they arrived, removing single people and leaving families to wait at the river.
Several of the camp dwellers were pregnant women, including at least one who gave birth near the banks of the Rio Grande, was taken to the hospital and then returned to the camp.
On Sunday, a woman collapsed within sight of National Guard troops, who slowly approached and carried her away.