DHS to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti as migrants overwhelm US southern border

The Department of Homeland Security plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti to deter Haitians who are overwhelming Del Rio, Texas, a Customs and Border Protection official told CNN.

The flights are expected soon, the official said. A Homeland Security official previously told CNN that a flight to Haiti went out Wednesday and that the flights would continue.

The Associated Press was first to report on the increase in flights.

Haiti is still reeling from a major earthquake that resulted in more than 2,000 deaths and thousands more injuries, as well as the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July. For those reasons, more than 50 Democratic lawmakers urged the Biden administration in a letter this week to halt deportations to the country.

“The Haitian government’s ability to safely receive its citizens will take months, if not years, to secure,” the letter said.

Many of the Haitians currently at the border are believed to have been living in South America after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, but the toll of the pandemic on the region fueled migration to the US southern border.

There are now 13,990 migrants under the Del Rio International Bridge, Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano told CNN.

“Our federal partners are working tirelessly and doing what they are assigned to do. They’re short-handed. They’re tired,” Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez said Thursday. “It can reach a breaking point pretty quick.”

The number of Haitians arriving at the US southern border has gradually increased since the spring. In August, US Customs and Border Protection encountered 7,580 Haitians, according to the latest available data.

DHS has taken other measures to address Haitians in the US. In May, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a new 18-month designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, a form of humanitarian relief. TPS applies to people in the United States who would face extreme hardship if forced to return to homelands devastated by armed conflict or natural disasters and allows them to legally work in the US.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated who said there are 13,990 migrants under the Del Rio International Bridge. It was Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano.

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