Life Along The Border Collapses
Take all of the imagery you have seen of the over 14,000 Haitian migrants camped under an international bridge in the small Texas border town of Del Rio and add the complications of disease, public excrement, unbearable heat and heightened frustrations. It has led to violence that has injured Border Patrol officers.
Now close your eyes and imagine it is 100 times worse.
Because that's what it is, said Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales, the freshman Republican who represents 42% of the border. The overwhelmed city of Del Rio had been in a rapidly deteriorating crisis situation when illegal immigrants first began surging into the community in January, but Gonzales now says the situation here is a "Category 5" and that the environment is unlike anything he has ever seen before.
"I arrived here today to pure chaos," he said. "I've never seen it in this environment. There literally is no border left."
Gonzales said Del Rio is in dire straits. "There's no doubt there's COVID here, there's measles, tuberculosis, all kinds of diseases," he said. "You've got kids running around in nothing but diapers. A handful of port-a-potties -- my God, the stench is terrible. This is not good for the migrants. It is not good for the residents. It's not good for wherever our government is sending them in the interior of the country."
Despite the Department of Homeland Security insisting repeatedly the Haitians would be deported, as of Tuesday, it had only removed 1,000 of the estimated 15,000 under the bridge. Multiple news organizations including CNN reported that buses have been escorting them to a nonprofit organization in town where they purchase bus or plane tickets. They are then moved to a gas station where buses pick them up and take them to other parts of the country.
The Washington Post reported that the number is in the thousands of those released to parts unknown in the interior of the country.
"My takeaway after I walked through it all, I look over at the sector chief, and I go, 'Man, I just feel sad.' He goes, 'I know. Everyone just feels beaten here,'" Gonzales said.
Del Rio residents have seen their lives turned upside down. The international bridge has been closed -- a lifeline bringing tens of millions of dollars to the local economy. If you're a small-business owner and your business has somehow survived COVID-19, something like this could easily wipe you out.
Everybody has been sucked into this chaos.