The Biden administration continued to face questions on Thursday about its handling a surge of Haitian migrants crossing the southern border, even after temporarily suspending horse patrols in the area.
Images of horseback patrols pursuing Haitians spread earlier this week, drawing outrage from Republicans and Democrats in Congress as well as the White House. On Thursday, both the Department of Homeland Security and White House confirmed those patrols had been stopped for the time being.
Also Thursday,DHS officials said about 7,000 migrants remained in Del Rio, down from a peak of about 15,000 on Sept. 18. Migrants have been moved to other sectors for processing, sent back to Haiti and, in some cases, turned back to Mexico.
About 7,000 people remain in the Del Rio, Texas, sector of the U.S. southern border following a surge of Haitian migrants crossing into the U.S. where they set up a makeshift camp under a bridge.
Department of Homeland Security officials said Thursday that about 4,050 people remain in the encampment under the bridge, while the rest have been moved out of the elements and into the closed port of entry.
The remaining number of migrants in Del Rio is down from a peak of 15,000 on Saturday, according to DHS.
So far, 3,200 migrants have been moved to other sectors to speed up processing, and about 1,400 have been returned to Haiti on 13 flights, according to DHS. “Several thousand” also went back across the border and into Mexico, DHS officials speaking on background told reporters.
— Rick Rouan
Federal agents policing a makeshift encampment for a surge of migrant Haitians in Del Rio, Texas, have stopped using horse patrols after images surfaced of law enforcement on horseback chasing down migrants.
The images brought a swift rebuke, with lawmakers criticizing the practice as inhumane and a vow for a swift investigation from the Biden administration. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified this week before Congress about the images.
Department of Homeland Security officials and White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Thursday that the use of horse patrols had been suspended temporarily in Del Rio.
"I can also convey to you that the secretary also conveyed to civil rights leaders, earlier this morning, that we would no longer be using horses in Del Rio, so that is something a policy change that has been made in response," Psaki said.
The Biden administration continues to face questions about how it is handling a surge of Haitian migrants crossing the southern border. Thousands of migrants were living in a makeshift camp this week along the river bank separating Del Rio, Texas, from Ciudad Acuña in Mexico.
— Rick Rouan
Hours after news broke that the Biden administration's special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, had resigned, State Department spokesman Ned Price disputed Foote's claim that the career diplomat's recommendations were ignored.
"There have been multiple senior-level policy conversations on Haiti, where all proposals, including those led by Special Envoy Foote, were fully considered in a rigorous and transparent policy process," Price said Thursday. "Some of those proposals were determined to be harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti and were rejected during the policy process. For him to say his proposals were ignored is simply false.
Price added that in debating what advice to give President Joe Biden, "No ideas are ignored, but not all ideas are good ideas."
He said Foote had quit and "mischaracterized" what happened. "He failed to take advantage of ample opportunity to raise concerns about migration during his tenure and chose to resign instead."
– Katie Wadington
Mexican State Police guarded the south bank of the Rio Grande on Thursday while Texas State Troopers formed along the river’s north bank as Haitian migrants were left to decide whether to cross into the United States.
Aerial photos shot by the El Paso Times show about a dozen Mexican State Police vehicles spaced out along a path that runs alongside the Rio Grande near where a surge of Haitian migrants have been crossing into Del Rio.
On the U.S. side of the river, about four times as many Texas State Trooper vehicles held a tight formation near a bridge where migrants have set up a makeshift camp.
— Rick Rouan
Mexican authorities began staging on Thursday morning at a migrant camp in Ciudad Acuña, just across the river from Del Rio, Texas, where an encampment of thousands of Haitian migrants has drawn international attention.
Local, state and federal authorities rolled into a park on the south side of the river separating Mexico from the United States, bringing buses and state police vehicles, according to the El Paso Times.
The park entrance was blocked, the Associated Press reported, and a helicopter flew overhead on Thursday morning. State police vehicles spaced about 30 feet apart and a fence line funneled migrants to the crossing point they had been using to enter the U.S.
— Lauren Villagran, El Paso Times, and the Associated Press
WASHINGTON – A career U.S. diplomat to Haiti has resigned over the Biden administration's "inhumane" decision tosend thousands of Haitians attempting to enter the U.S. back to the island nation.
Ambassador Daniel Foote, a Special Envoy for Haiti, wrote in his resignation letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he could not be associated with the government's "inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees." He has been in his post for two months.
Foote added that the U.S. approach to Haiti "remains deeply flawed," and that his advice has been ignored.
The move comes days after jarring images circulated from the Texas border with Mexico, where thousands of Haitian migrants arrived after migrating through other Latin American countries.
"The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to terror, kidnappings, robberies, and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy," Foote wrote.
Foote, who has spent his career in the Foreign Service, was appointed as Special Envoy in July.
— Matthew Brown