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PBS NewsHour Weekend
PBS NewsHour Weekend
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Thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, have gathered under a bridge in the border town of Del Rio, Texas, where officials have declared a local state of emergency. The crisis has spotlighted Biden's continued use of a Trump-era deportation policy, and highlights the growing migration crisis triggered by multiple recent tragedies in Haiti. Texas Public Radio's Joey Palacios reports from the scene in Del Rio.
Texas Public Radio reporter Joey Palacios is covering the story from Del Rio. He joined us earlier today.
Joey, thank you for joining us. Tell us, where are you and what's behind you there?
What we're looking at behind me is the border wall. And see that small entryway, that's where border personnel, Texas DPS personnel, are able to get back and forth to this migrant site. Now, the migrant encampment, which has upwards of 15,000 people right now, is maybe about a mile, three-quarters of a mile down that way. And from here, you can see just agency vehicle after agency vehicle. We've seen buses coming in and out to bring people to CBP processing centers to have their asylum cases heard. This massive amount of people, they are all people hoping to get asylum within the U.S. The majority are from Haiti.
And from what we've heard, some of these people have been in Mexico or in Central America or in Latin America for years, well before the recent earthquake, well before the assassination of Haiti's president. And these are people that have heard that, you know, that this is the area to come to where they get the best, probably the best chance of getting into the U.S. And that's one of the reasons why this encampment has grown from around 2,000 people Monday to where the more than 15,000 people that it is now.
When you say a processing center, is the government actually processing the Haitians and processing them to find out if they really have a reason to seek asylum here?
Yes, as of yesterday, what we've heard about 2,000 people have been processed so far and that number could be changing by the hour as the hour. And these are people that, it'll be determined if they have an asylum case to stay within the United States. Once they are granted an asylum case, they're allowed to remain here legally. And they'll receive help from different agencies like the Val Verde Humanitarian Border Coalition, which helps people find family here in the U.S., to get bus tickets, to just get to the next destination. So, I mean, there is a large response from community groups here to help these people once they're released from ICE.
Joey, in this case, how are they going from the encampment near where you are to airports either 50 miles away to San Antonio or wherever these flights are going to take place?
So the process is kind of a mystery, you know. So some of the impact that this is having is that the international bridge here is closed. So regular traffic between the U.S. and Mexico is not taking place and has not been taking place since Friday. So the bridge, which is just a few feet away from the basically a ghost town other than the 15,000 people that are underneath it. So no one is coming across. In fact, if you want to try to get in or out of the U.S. or Mexico, you have to go about 50 miles away to Eagle Pass. Now, as far as the people that are under there, what the process is, the people down there may not even know that this is the Biden administration's plan. There hasn't really been any clear direction or information, rather, on how this is going to take place.
Joey, the heat there in south Texas is extreme. We're talking about triple digits. Have there been any health concerns with these migrants? Fifteen thousand essentially camping out outside under a bridge?
Yes, absolutely. Yesterday, the heat index was about 104, maybe 105 degrees. And what we've seen coming out of that gate is that there are ambulances that will go in and out. And in fact, yesterday I saw an ambulance parked right outside and a family, three people come out, a mother and her child got into that ambulance. What the issue was, I'm not entirely sure. But as they were opening the door, there was already somebody else inside, too. So heat exhaustion is a real concern.
Feeding the people here is a real concern. In fact, yesterday, the restaurant where I had gotten dinner, I was talking with the general manager and he had said that they had been approached by a federal agency to come in and supply food, from what I understand, just other restaurants too are coming in to try to help with that.
Joey Palacios with Texas Public Radio. Joey, thank you.
Michael, thank you.
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