On September 24, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) emptied a migrant camp that formed under an international bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after the settlement forced the week-long closure of the bridge, threats to small business supplies and operations, and economic losses that numbered an estimated $8 million.
The crumbling of the government, economy, and infrastructure in Haiti has contributed to the recent surge in the number of Haitian migrants at the U.S border. These issues were exacerbated by the assassination of the country’s president in July and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in August that ravaged the nation’s already crumbling infrastructure.
The majority of migrants in the camp had flown from Haiti to Ecuador, where a visa is not required for visiting Haitian citizens. From there, large caravans of Haitian migrants set off solo or combined with Central American caravans to travel south through Mexico, arrive at the southern U.S. border, and collect under the Del Rio International Bridge. The bridge, which connects Del Rio, Texas, and the Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, is a high-volume trade route for the two cities. An estimated $2.8 billion has passed over the bridge since January 2021; the migrant settlement that shut down the bridge from September 17 to September 24 interrupted and nearly collapsed Ciudad Acuña economic activities.
By the end of the day on September 24, all of the roughly 15,000 migrants from Haiti and 15,000 from Central American countries who gathered under the Del Rio International Bridge had been cleared by U. S. government personnel. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas held a press conference that day to announce the successful relocation of the migrants. According to Mayorkas, “12,400 individuals will have their cases heard by an immigration judge… An estimated 8,000 migrants have decided to return to Mexico voluntarily and just over 5,000 are being processed by DHS to determine whether they will be expelled or placed in immigration removal proceedings.” Ultimately, Mayorkas said that it was “unprecedented for us to see that number of people arrive in one discrete point along the border in such a compacted period of time.” Fortunately, this situation was resolved within a month, but it remains to be seen what else is in store for the DHS as migrants continue to travel in hordes to the border.