Illegal immigrants massed at a squalid makeshift migrant camp in Texas are reportedly being released into the US on a “very large scale” and are being told to report to an immigration office in 60 days — as the state’s governor takes border security into his own hands by creating a wall of state vehicles along the crossing to deter illegal entry.
The up to 15,000 illegal immigrants holed up in a camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, for the past week are being put on buses by Department of Homeland Security officials and sent to El Paso, Laredo and other locations along the Texas border.
Others are being put on flights to Tucson, Ariz., the Associated Press reported, citing US officials.
They told the wire service that the mostly Haitian migrants have been freed on a “very, very large scale” in recent days and said the number could reach into the thousands.
Many of them have been freed after being given a notice to show up at an immigration office within 60 days to hasten the processing time for Border Patrol agents who have been overwhelmed by the massive numbers.
The illegal immigrants will be processed when they arrive at their destinations in the US.
An official told the AP that a large number of Haitians were being processed under immigrations laws and not being put on the deportation flights that began Sunday, but couldn’t be specific about the numbers.
The revelation that illegal immigrants are being released in the US comes just days after DHS Secretary Alejando Mayorkas warned that people arriving in the US will be returned to their home countries.
“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed and you will be endangering your life and your family’s lives,” Mayorkas said during a visit to Del Rio on Monday, noting that the border is closed.
One migrant, Mackenson Veillard, found himself at a gas station in Del Rio waiting for a Greyhound bus to take him and his pregnant wife to San Antonio, where a cousin lives.
Three hours earlier, the couple were in the migrant camp under the International Bridge in Del Rio.
“I felt so stressed,” Veillard told the AP. “But now, I feel better. It’s like I’m starting a new life.”
He and his wife were processed and released on Monday.
Wade McMullen, an attorney with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights nonprofit, told the AP that the administration has not been forthcoming about what’s happening with the illegal immigrants, as well as how many have been released in the US or deported.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he estimates that about 8,600 people are still in the Del Rio camp.
The governor, frustrated by the Biden administration’s inability to stem the tide of illegal immigration, has created a makeshift wall of state vehicles along the border to block people from crossing the Rio Grande river into the US, according to a report.
Abbott said Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas National Guard vehicles have been placed at the border for miles where he says about 16,000 migrants have entered the US, NBC 5 in Dallas/Fort Worth reported.
“They have created a steel barrier preventing people from being able to cross the border,” Abbott, a Republican, said Tuesday.
“One day there were countless people coming across the border, then the DPS put up all these DPS vehicles, and suddenly, in an instant, people stopped crossing the border in this location. That strategy is working.”
He contrasted his approach to the illegal immigration surge with President Biden’s.
“It’s not the Biden administration catch and release policy, it’s the arrest and jail policy, sending a message to these folks and anybody thinking about coming here if they’re thinking about coming and crossing this river here in Texas, that you may wind up with handcuffs on your hands going straight to jail as opposed to being released to the general population,” Abbott said.
He didn’t say how many illegal immigrants have been arrested or jailed.
Mayorkas, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, failed to come up with a “ballpark” estimate for how many of the 1.3 million illegal immigrants apprehended at the border this year have been released in the US, were deported or are still being held.
“You have repeatedly stated that our borders are not open, they’re closed. Do you honestly believe that our borders are closed?” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) pressed him during a hearing.
After a tense exchange between Mayorkas and Johnson, the DHS secretary admitted he didn’t have the data.
At a House hearing on Wednesday, Mayorkas was once again asked to come up with the numbers.
“I worked 18 hours,” he complained, claiming that when he returned from Tuesday’s Senate hearing, he was focused on the situation rather than finding data.
Besides the US government releasing illegal immigrants into the US interior, private groups are helping people enter the US.
Fox News reported on how a group of illegal immigrants were put on a bus after being processed and given a notice to appear before an immigration judge in 60 days.
One of the migrants from Central America told Fox News that he didn’t have papers.
In McCallen, Texas, they were met by workers at a charity who provided them with food, shelter and sometimes transportation.
Later, the bus stopped at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint where the migrants showed the officials the notice to appear in court given to them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
After clearing the checkpoint, the bus stopped two hours later in San Antonio, where the migrants were given a meal.
The bus eventually arrived at a bus station in Dallas, but no government official or member of the charity was there to meet them, and their final destination was unknown.