Images show that the migrant camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, has been largely cleared out in the week since media outlets first began covering the crisis.
Fox News national correspondent Bill Melugin, who has been reporting live from Del Rio for the past week, posted new pictures showing the remains of the camp that once housed nearly 15,000 migrants.
“The migrant camp in Del Rio is being rapidly cleared out. Most of the makeshift structures have been bulldozed. Most migrants from our area gone. About 3,000 left last check,” Melugin tweeted, along with a photo showing the trash left behind after the camp was nearly cleared.
NEW: The migrant camp in Del Rio is being rapidly cleared out. Most of the makeshift structures have been bulldozed. Most migrants from our area gone. About 3,000 left last check.
I’m back to LA now to recharge. My colleague @Jeff_Paul is now here for border coverage. @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/11KILSjLzZ
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) September 23, 2021
On Thursday, The Washington Examiner reported that the Biden administration had set Friday as the deadline to have the camp cleared, following days of negative coverage for the White House.
“Two senior officials within the Department of Homeland Security said the camp, underneath the Del Rio-Acuna International Bridge, is creating bad ‘optics’ and drawing renewed scrutiny to the administration’s inability to curb illegal immigration. At one point, more than 15,000 people were in the camp, though the number had dwindled to less than a third of that by Thursday,” the Examiner reported.
“They want those people out from under that bridge so they can’t be seen anymore,” one official told the outlet. “It’s an optics thing. They are moving them around for process and release. They’re going to have everyone at the bridge gone in the next two days.”
The official told the Examiner that the order came from the White House after federal authorities learned a Black Lives Matter protest was scheduled to take place near the bridge over the weekend.
“They don’t want them all riled up [at the time of the protest],” the official said.
A second DHS official also mentioned “optics” when explaining to the Examiner that the illegal immigrants at the camp were not all being deported.
“Most will be at other holding facilities in other sectors. They are basically just moving the bridge to other areas. It’s all about optics,” the second official told the outlet in an email. “It’s getting hard to move them because they are getting aggressive.”
On the same day the camp was nearly cleared, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged that the illegal immigrants staying there had not been tested for COVID-19.
“We did not test that population of individuals,” Mayorkas told reporters on Friday. “We do not know, I do not know, I should say if I may be perfectly accurate, I do not know if anyone was sick with COVID. We certainly had some people get sick, not with COVID to my knowledge and we addressed their illnesses.”
On Thursday, Mayorkas refused to tell CNN’s Wolf Blitzer how many of the illegal immigrants had been released into the U.S. When Blitzer asked how many had been released into the U.S., Mayorkas dodged the question.
“Wolf, we have indeed removed approximately 1,400 people from the Del Rio sector. We accumulate our statistics on a monthly basis, and, of course, we’ll publish those as well. The individuals whom we release and place into immigration enforcement proceedings are those, for example, with acute medical conditions, specific vulnerabilities, or if our operational capacity so dictates,” Mayorkas said.
“It’s very important, Wolf, to underscore the fact that this is not a matter of immigration policy, but rather this is a matter of public health policy,” he continued. “We are applying the law pursuant to an order that the Centers for Disease Control issued in light of the fact that this country and the world is in the midst of a pandemic. We are exercising that authority, as we are required to do, to protect the health and well-being of the migrants themselves, our personnel, local communities and the American public.”