DHS: Repatriation flights to Haiti will continue; Horse patrols suspended in Del Rio

Border Report

Advocacy groups mobilizing nationwide to demand due process for asylum seekers and end to "targeted" enforcement against migrants of color

Police officers try to block a deportee from boarding the same plane he and others were deported in, to attempt to return to the United States, on the tarmac of the Toussaint Louverture airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Despite growing pressure from grassroots groups and Democratic lawmakers, the U.S. government has no immediate plans to suspend repatriation flights of Haitian migrants from a camp near Del Rio, Texas.

The agency on Thursday also suspended the use of horse patrols in Del Rio after images of U.S. Border Patrol agents showing aggressive tactics on Haitian immigrants surfaced, CNN reported.

The Department of Homeland Security late Wednesday said two flights taking Haitians back to their country left Del Rio for Port-au-Prince. A third flight took off from Del Rio to Cap Haitien, also on Wednesday.

The three planes carried a total of 318 Haitian nationals; these flights will continue, DHS said Wednesday night in response to previous inquiries from Border Report and other U.S. media outlets.

“Since Sunday (Sept. 19), 12 repatriation flights have left the United States and 1,401 Haitian nationals have been returned to Haiti. Another 3,206 Haitians have been moved from the Del Rio camp to U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody or to other sectors to either be expelled via Title 42 or placed into removal proceedings,” DHS said.

The agency said fewer than 5,000 migrants remain at the Del Rio camp, which has raised alarms among advocates who say the migrants are living in squalid conditions and some allegedly have been targets of excessive force by immigration enforcement agents.

Black and Latino lawmakers have called for a moratorium on deportation flights and demanding that the Haitians and others who are crossing the border to seek asylum in the U.S. be given due process – not just be pushed back to the Mexican side of the river or put on a plane back to a country amid social and political upheaval.

In El Paso, several advocacy groups are planning a late morning march Thursday to support the Haitians and other migrants, and to demand the firing of federal agents allegedly caught on video charging at migrants in Del Rio with their horses.

According to CNN’s Ana Cabrera, DHS has temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol in Del Rio.

The U.S. Border Patrol agents tied to those images have been placed on administrative duties pending an investigation.

A Border Patrol agent on horseback uses the reins to try and stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)

“The abuse we are witnessing right now against Haitian asylum seekers in Del Rio is abhorrent,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “Seeking asylum is a legal right, and the Biden administration is violating that right by deporting Haitian asylum seekers en masse without due process. We demand that President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas investigate the events in Del Rio against Haitian migrants and hold Border Patrol and all involved parties accountable.”

Across the county, groups were planning 25 coordinated rallies to demand an end to deportation and the release of migrants now in detention. The actions are being coordinated by Detention Watch Network, FIRM Action, United We Dream and the We Are Home Campaign, among others.

“The Biden administration is failing to live up to its promises of a more just and humane immigration system,” the organizers of Communities, Not Cages Day of Action said in a statement. “The number of people in detention has increased at an alarming rate since the start of the Biden administration, nearly doubling in mid-July as community members continue to be arrested and detained for deportation.”

The groups allege immigration enforcement is focusing on black and brown migrants.

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