Thousands of Haitian migrants fleeing disaster and chaos seek refuge on a bridge in Del Rio

Thousands of Haitian migrants fleeing disaster and chaos seek refuge on a bridge in Del Rio

Thousands of Haitian migrants fleeing disaster and chaos seek refuge on a bridge in Del Rio: DEL RIO – Five days after Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7, 29-year-old Stenin Jean decided to flee the country with his wife and two children – to Bolivia, where many Haitians have recently arrived before embarking on a difficult international tour. in the United States.

The family was in Panama last month when a 7.2 magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook Haiti, destroying thousands of homes and killing more than 2,000 people.

“There are people killing each other in Haiti, there is no justice,” said Jean, who arrived at the US-Mexico border on Wednesday afternoon after a two-month trek through the jungle of South America and crossed the Rio Grande in Del Rio to seek asylum. “I just want to live a calm life without problems. I just want to live somewhere where I know there is justice.” The family has joined an estimated 12,000 refugees who have arrived at the border these days and are currently waiting under Del Rio’s international bridge, about 150 miles west of San Antonio, to be processed by US Customs and Border Protection. Most are from Haiti and are seeking asylum in the U.S.

On Friday, Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano announced the state of the disaster and said the city was closing off toll booths on the international bridge connecting the city to Ciudad Acuña to stop traffic jams crossing the bridge, as a precautionary measure.

The city later issued a statement saying “international travel will continue as normal” and people could be seen walking up and down the bridge on Friday evening. But by the end of Friday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced that the port of entry will be temporarily closed.

“These temporary closures and shifts are necessary for CBP to address the urgent safety and security needs brought about by the influx of immigrants to Del Rio and are effective immediately,” the organization said in a statement. “It will promote and protect national interests and help ensure the safety of the surrounding community, trade, and CBP services.”

Typical traffic using border bridges in Del Rio will be directed 57 miles east of Eagle Pass, government officials said. They did not indicate how long the Del Rio closure would last.

Lozano said he had previously asked for help from the government to help prevent more immigrants from entering the city. He said the city expected 8,000 more immigrants to arrive in the coming days.

Large numbers arrive quickly in Del Rio, a city of about 35,000, with local authorities worried about how to feed and accommodate the thousands of migrants who are currently forced to wait in the shadow of the bridge.

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Extreme situations require negative feedback, ”said Lozano. “There are people with children down there [under the bridge], there are people who are collapsing because of the heat. They are aggressive, they should – be at risk of daily burns. ”

When they arrived at Fort Worth on Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott said the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security had told the state that immigrants would be deported to Arizona, California and possibly Laredo. “But one thing we know for sure is that, there is nothing but uncertainty and a decision by Biden management about what they will do,” Abbott said.

Many migrants in Del Rio say they began their journey years ago, fleeing Haiti after previous disasters such as the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Junior Pacheco, 38, said he moved from Haiti to Chile, where he stayed for five years before moving to the Texas-Mexico border in August. He said that after arriving in Mexico, police asked for his passport as they were getting off the rental bus and could not return it.

“There is a lot of trauma on the road here. From people to the police, they stole our money, our passports. There are other people getting lost along the way, ”he said in a telephone interview from Ciudad Acuña, where he bought food, water and a tent for his family to sleep on.

Things are calm now, we just wanted to get here, ”he said. “We are no longer afraid.”

Immigrants fleeing South America say the trip to the north was deceptive, with criminals and traffickers taking advantage of the dangerous immigrants. Videos widely circulated on social media in recent weeks show Mexican troops using force as they try to prevent Haitians from crossing the border with Guatemala.

On Thursday, hundreds of immigrants crossed the Rio Grande between Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña, carrying children on their shoulders, carrying water bottles on their heads and collecting cardboard to sleep on.

Eduardo Vargas, 27, said he arrived in Del Rio from his native Chile on Tuesday with his eight-month-old daughter and his wife to apply for asylum. He said he left Chile because he could not find work to support his family. Like others waiting under the bridge, he said he got a ticket from U.S. officials He is also waiting for his number to be called for asylum.

He said that when his family was in Del Rio, he and other immigrants used to cross the shallow Rio Grande to buy food and water in Ciudad Acuña. They slept on the floor under the bridge and bathed and washed their clothes in the river, he said.

“We want to leave here,” he said. “We do not have a lot of money to buy food, and we do not eat well or drink a lot of water. We are hungry. ”

Thomas Jean, 49, has left his wife and son in Haiti, and if he can start a new life in America, he says he plans to bring his family. He said he left because of political unrest in Haiti more .

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