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US: Migrant camp in Texas completely cleared

September 24, 2021

All migrants who had been camping under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, are now gone, according to US authorities. Thousands were living in dire conditions as they sought asylum in the US.

A bulldozer is seen clearing debris where thousands of migrants, many from Haiti, were encamped along the Del Rio International Bridge
US officials say some of the migrants were returned to Haiti and others were placed into special facilities while they await their fateImage: Julio Cortez/AP/picture alliance

A temporary camp that had been housing thousands of mostly Haitian migrants has been completely cleared, US authorities said on Friday.

"As of this morning, there are no longer any migrants at the camp underneath the Del Rio bridge," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told members of the media at the White House.

Around 15,000 people had descended on the small Texan town of Del Rio, hoping to get asylum in the US.

Del Rio's Mayor Bruno Lozano said it was "phenomenal news."

Picture from earlier in September showing some of the thousands of asylum-seekers beneath the Del Rio International Bridge
The US government has been criticized for its handling of the migrant situation on its southern borderImage: REUTERS

Where have the migrants gone?

Mayorkas said: "Some have been returned to Haiti. Others have been moved to processing facilities along the border ... and many of them will be returned to Haiti from there."

Thousands had made their way back to Mexico of their own accord, according to Mayorkas. He said many of those who had medical conditions or were vulnerable or had made allegations of torture, would be registered in the system and the courts would decide what would happen next.

Some Haitians are being allowed to stay in the US on a temporary basis to seek asylum or remain on some other claim of residency.

The buck stops with Biden

Confirmation of the camps clearance came after US President Joe Biden said he was the one ultimately responsible for the situation at the southern border.

Biden said the method in which border guards used their horses against migrants was "horrible" and that "there will be consequences." Pictures of migrants being chased down by officials on horseback have sparked outrage.

Mounted US border guard is seen grabbing a shirt of a running Haitian migrant
Photos and videos of US border guards on horseback chasing after migrants prompted outrage Image: PAUL RATJE/AFP

Mayorkas also referred to the "horror" that many in government felt when they saw the pictures of border guards on horseback.

The senior official said that the circumstances of the incident would be investigated.

Conditions at the camp, the actions of the border guards and the deportations have been fiercely criticized by rights groups and even the United Nations. The crisis also resulted in the resignation of the US envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote.

kb/dj (AFP, AP)

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