More than 320 migrants landed in Port-au-Prince on three flights Sunday, and Haiti said six flights were assumed Tuesday. Overall, U.S. authorities moved to dismiss many of the more than 12,000 migrants camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
Mexico also said it would banish Haitian migrants, and began transporting them from Ciudad Acuña Sunday evening, according to Luis Angel Urraza, president of the local chamber of commerce. He said he saw the first two buses leave from in front of his restaurant with about 90 people aboard.
“There isn’t room for them in the city anymore; we can’t help them anymore,” he said.
One federal official told The Associated Press on Sunday that the intention was to transfer the migrants to Monterrey, in northern Mexico, and Tapachula, in the south, with flights to Haiti from those cities to begin in coming days.
The U.S. plans to begin seven expulsion flights daily on Wednesday, four to Port-au-Prince and three to Cap-Haitien, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Flights will proceed to leave San Antonio but authorities may add El Paso, the official said.
The only clear parallel for such a removal without a chance to seek refuge was in 1992 when the Coast Guard intercepted Haitian refugees at sea, said Yael Schacher, senior U.S. advocate at Refugees International whose doctoral studies focused on the history of U.S. asylum law.
Similarly, a large proportion of Mexicans have been sent home during peak years of immigration but over land and not so suddenly.
Central Americans have also passed the border in similar numbers without being subject to mass expulsion, although Mexico has agreed to accept them from the U.S. under pandemic-related authority in effect since March 2020. Mexico does not accept expelled Haitians or people of other nationalities outside of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
When the border was shut Sunday, the migrants originally found other ways to cross nearby until they were confronted by federal and state law enforcement. An Associated Press reporter saw Haitian immigrants still crossing the river into the U.S. about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) east of the previous spot, but they were ultimately blocked by Border Patrol agents on horseback and Texas law enforcement officials.