The Mexican government planned to start deporting migrants, primarily Haitians, on Sept. 21, Piedras Negras Mayor Claudio Bres told Mexican news outlet Zocalo on Sept. 20.
Bres and other officials were slated to meet Sept. 21 with counterparts from Eagle Pass, Texas, which sits just across the border from their city, as the U.S. scrambles to deal with an immigration crisis that shows no signs of slowing down.
More than 10,000 illegal immigrants had amassed in Del Rio, Texas, about 60 miles northwest of Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass, in recent days. Most hail from Haiti.
Over 6,500 have been removed from the area by U.S. border authorities, while others have moved across the Rio Grande to Acuna, Mexico, to consider their options.
Mexican authorities also decided over the weekend that all foreign buses carrying migrants will be turned around if they’re trying to head to Piedras Negras or Acuna, Bres told a news conference on Sept. 19. Fines of up to $1,000 are being imposed on anyone who attempts to help the migrants.
Capt. Carlos Solis of the Salvation Army told The Epoch Times in Acuna on Sept. 20 that he was on a mission to see what the group could do, since they can’t operate at this time in Piedras Negras. He said officials made migrants on about 200 buses disembark and walk on Sept. 19, though none were being deported, as he understood.
“This is a complete crisis. These are people that have left everything behind,” he said, estimating it would take about a week to deploy resources to feed about 500 migrants per day.
Bres said 71 foreign buses full of migrants went through Piedras Negras on Sept. 17 and Sept. 18. In one case, migrants exited a vehicle and became aggressive with border inspectors and other law enforcement officers. They were all arrested, including the driver.
“The goal is that this wave—all because it’s a big wave of foreign transports, and we counted them in the hundreds—doesn’t reach the border,” he said.
Illegal immigrants who made it to Del Rio told The Epoch Times that they took buses on at least part of their journey.
Bres later said the bus order stemmed from the flood of migrants that have traveled through Mexico to the United States since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January and dramatically altered immigration enforcement rules.
“There have been some situations that many of us here in Mexico may not understand” in regard to what the U.S. Congress has considered and the White House has implemented, he told Zocalo.
“I don’t want to get into details. But after that, there was a big exodus of migrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border,” he added.
Other countries along the trek to the United States have also signaled displeasure with the current state of affairs. Erika Mouynes, Panama’s foreign minister, told a regional meeting on Sept. 18 that a few months ago, just 800 migrants were passing through the country towards the United States. That has ballooned to over 20,000.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador didn’t mention either deal at a press conference in Mexico City on Sept. 20, but did say he had penned a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden asking his counterpart to revamp efforts on immigration.
Biden has presided over what is on track to be the worst border crisis in recorded history, in terms of the number of immigrants who have entered the United States illegally and have been encountered by U.S. agents and officers. The number topped 200,000 in both July and August.
López Obrador told Biden that the United States should invest immediately in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—three countries from which many immigrants begin their journeys—asserting that a U.S. investment “would be assisting 330,000 people in less than six months who would see this joint action as a hope,” according to AFP. While the Mexican president has previously ordered Mexico’s National Guard to break up some migrant caravans, he has done little to stop the surge pressing toward the United States.
A Mexican government official told The Associated Press that deportation flights would be leaving this week from towns near the U.S. border, as well as near the country’s southern border with Guatemala. The flights would return Haitian nationals to their home country, the official said.
Migrant officials in Haiti told the outlet that six deportation flights were scheduled to land in the country on Sept. 21, including three in Port-au-Prince, where U.S. officials have deported at least three planeloads of Haitians.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters in Del Rio on Sept. 20 that the Biden administration “is working with source and transit countries in the region to accept individuals who previously resided in those countries.” He added that the White House has directed appropriate U.S. agencies to work with the Haitian and other regional governments to provide assistance and support to the deportees.
U.S. officials continue to claim the border isn’t open, even as the United States sees high levels of illegal immigration. Some of the illegal immigrants are expelled per federal law or the pandemic-era Title 42 powers, while others are allowed to stay with an order to appear in court down the road.
The United States granted temporary protected status to Haitian nationals who were in the United States before July 29, but that status doesn’t apply to any of the immigrants who have flooded Del Rio.
Ileana Alescio contributed to this report.