The Department of Homeland Security released official numbers, Wednesday, documenting how many Haitian migrants have been processed, expelled, or referred for assessment — but did not include how many Haitian migrants have been released into the United States, instead of leaving an estimated 5,000 individuals unaccounted for in their records.
According to DHS, around 4,600 migrants have been moved from a makeshift shelter constructed under a highway overpass near Del Rio, Texas — a situation first revealed by Fox News’ Bill Melugin, who was able to capture drone footage showing the extent of the migrant encampment. Initial estimates put the number of migrants sheltering in Del Rio at around 15,000.
The Biden administration, though, quickly moved to restrict the airspace over the Del Rio bridge to drone flight, citing unspecified security concerns.
DHS also noted late Wednesday that, of that 4,600, around 1,400 Haitian migrants have already been put on planes and sent back to Port-au-Prince under Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allows the U.S. government to expel migrants over concerns they could spread COVID-19.
But, DHS noted, as the New York Post pointed out, that there are approximately 5,000 Haitian migrants left to process, leaving a missing 5,000 migrants, if initial estimates are correct. There could be several factors responsible for the precipitous drop in the Del Rio encampment’s population, including that some migrants have elected to cross back over the Rio Grande and return to Mexico, and areas in Central and South America, where they may have initially sought asylum following a political upheaval and a major earthquake earlier this summer.
DHS, though, refused to say whether the remaining 3,200 migrants — the ones that were processed by have not yet been expelled — were released into the United States.
“The department said that fewer than 5,000 migrants remained at the Del Rio site, which by some estimates held nearly 15,000 people before the Biden administration ordered removals to begin this past Sunday,” the New York Post confirmed. “DHS did not specify how many of the 3,206 have been expelled under Title 42 and how many have been released into the US. The Associated Press, citing a US official, reported earlier Wednesday that the latter number was in the thousands and releases were taking place on a ‘very, very large scale.'”
At least 1,000 of the 3,200 migrants have been processed in Del Rio and given orders to return for an asylum hearing, according to unofficial counts given to The Wall Street Journal.
Nearly “1,000 migrants have been released in Del Rio, according to Tiffany Burrow, who runs the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Respite Center, a shelter in the city,” the WSJ noted. “They will be allowed to wait in the U.S. for their asylum claims to be adjudicated, a process that often takes years. CBP hasn’t explained how it determines who is released and who is expelled.”
DHS also did not specify under what criteria Haitian migrants are being allowed to stay. Many have already sought and been granted asylum in other countries like Chile, leaving them likely unable to seek asylum in the United States. Migrants returning to Mexico are also likely to be expelled, according to The Wall Street Journal. Many cannot return to Haiti, or have not lived on the island nation in “more than a decade.”
“Wade McMullen, an attorney with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights,” told the Associated Press that the migrants “he and other advocates have interviewed and who have been turned loose have been families with young children and pregnant women,” per the Post.
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