Crowded camps, garbage piles, extreme heat: migrants in Texas face unlivable conditions

Ťhousands of migrants and asylum seekers are facing desperate conditions as they continue to be held in makeshift camps under the Del Rio international bridge in Texas, including high temperatures, squalid living conditions, and probable deportation and shocking mistreatment by border patrol agents.

估计 14,000 migrants, including pregnant women and children, have crossed the Rio Grande over the last two weeks, coming by bus and foot to seek refuge or a new life in the US. The majority are Haitian, with many fleeing the recent mass destruction of an earthquake and political turmoil following Haitian president Jovenel Moïse’s assassination.

“A friend of mine told me to cross here. I heard it was easier,” said Mackenson, 一种 25 year-old Haitian migrant who spoke to the 纽约时报 and didn’t want his last name published. Mackenson made the journey with his pregnant wife, traveling from Tapachula, 墨西哥, over 1,100 miles from the Texas border, after spending the past three years sheltering in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Panama. “It took us two months to get here on foot and by bus.”

Like Mackenson, the journey to the US for many Haitian migrants has been a treacherous one that is sometimes months or years in the makingthrough South American countries. Arriving in waves with their families in tow, asylum seekers bring few provisions – food, mattresses, diapers – to survive while they wait to see if they will be admitted to the US.

The temporary camps under the Del Rio bridge provide limited respite from the difficulties of the trek. In the crowded camps, migrants sleep in tents or in the dirt surrounded by growing piles of garbage, all in sweltering 100F (38C) 热.

A shaded temporary staging area under the bridge meant to “prevent injuries from heat-related illness” according to US border patrol, offers some shade, but is often equally crowded. Food and water is growing increasingly scarce, 和 more food, towels and water being delivered. But many migrants and refugees worry for their family, especially those accompanied by young children who have to shoulder Texas’s extreme heat and a recent storm.

“We’re suffering here,” James Tilus, a 26-year-old Haitian migrant told CNN as he held his two young children.

“We told our son we were camping so he wouldn’t worry,” said Roselini Villasmil, a 33-year-old from Venezuela. “You’re thinking, What will happen to us?”

Facing increased migration, the US has carried out mass deportations, expulsions made permissible under Trump-era emergency public health order, 标题 42, that allows the US to send away migrants during the pandemic. 多于 1,000 people have been deported to Haiti since Sunday, reports the Times.

Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of Homeland Security, confirmed during a press conference on Monday that officials plan on ramping up deportation flights to Haiti and other destinations, ”[anticipating] at least one to three flights per day”. Only Haitian migrants who arrived in the US before 29 July will be eligible for temporary protected status, according to Mayorkas.

“It’s not right,” said Jean Philipe Samus, a Haitian national. “The Americans are grabbing Haitians and deporting everyone to Haiti. Haiti has no president, no jobs, there is nothing. In the earthquake a lot of people died. It’s not right over there, I’m going back to Mexico.”

“I’m not going to stay in Haiti,” said Elène Jean-Baptiste, a 33-year-old migrant who traveled with her husband and her three-year-old son, to the Times.

On the ground, border patrol agents have escalated tactics to intimidate and hold newly arrived migrants. Mounted on horses and using what looks like whips, photos and videos showing agents chasing migrants have been widely shared, with at least one video showing a border patrol agent shouting expletives at migrants. Texas governor Greg Abboott has also approved a mile-long “steel barrier” made of police vehicles to deter refugees from entering the state.

The situation at Del Rio bridge has drawn intense criticism of the Biden administration from both parties. Democrats, including Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer of New York, have decried the treatment of migrants as “completely unacceptable”.

He added that the administration should not “continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws”, and said asylum seekers must be afforded due process.

Many others have called for a halt on deportations. Republicans largely blame the administration for mishandling the current migration surge and not cracking down on undocumented immigration.