The migrant shantytown under a concrete overpass in Del Rio, Texas, had ballooned to 15,000 souls, mainly Haitians. They were running out of food and water amid dangerously unsanitary conditions. With a pipeline of hundreds more flooding across the Rio Grande from Mexico every day, a humanitarian disaster was unfolding and the media were starting to pay attention.
On Wednesday, 9,000 had arrived. By Saturday, 6,000 more had crossed the river with no impediment. The border was wide open. There wasn’t even a sign to stop them.
They set up camp in the shade under the International Bridge and soon had overwhelmed the port-a-potties provided by authorities. They were sleeping on the ground under rough tents fashioned from sticks and trash bags, washing their clothes in the river.
The garbage piled up, and some of the migrants took to crossing back into Mexico to buy supplies.
These are not people escaping an earthquake or political unrest or extreme poverty in Haiti, according to one of the most informed border observers, Todd Bensman, senior national security fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and author of “America’s Covert Border War.”
All the Haitians he has interviewed have been living in Chile or Brazil for the past three to five years.
“I’ve never met one yet who is actually coming directly from Haiti,” he said. “But they will probably apply for asylum on the basis of [problems] in Haiti.”
Bensman has covered the border crisis for more than a year, traveling through Guatemala and Mexico to interview migrants.
The Haitians now in Del Rio were “living a pretty good life [in South America] but they are seeing an opportunity to improve their situation,” he says.
“They say they heard Joe Biden was opening the border up so they came.”
Quite logically, these Haitians — who all have cellphones with social-media access — took up Biden’s offer.
By last week, border agents in Del Rio were swamped. So the Biden administration did what it does best: suppress the bad news.
Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration tried grounding the camera drone Fox News was using to inform its viewers about the disaster under the Del Rio bridge. But intrepid Fox reporter Bill Melugin just hitched a ride on a helicopter with Texas troopers to film the scene. Then he hired a boat to film the migrants streaming across at a rate of hundreds per hour. Finally, the FAA relented and let the Fox drone fly.
By then, it was too late to bury the story because even Bidenfriendly media, such as The New York Times and CNN, had come to Del Rio.
So, Plan B was to play tough.
The announcement came on Saturday. The Department of Homeland Security was going to fly all the Haitians back to Haiti starting at 3:30 a.m. Sunday. Sigh of relief. Crisis averted.
But not so fast. That’s not exactly what happened.
According to Bensman and other reporters in Del Rio, Haitians who are eligible for asylum (how long is a piece of string?) are being quietly placed in unmarked buses and onto planes and dispersed to other parts of the United States under a cloak of extreme secrecy.
On Sunday, a nonprofit named Church World Service set up a desk and laptop at the Stripes gas station in Del Rio, which doubles as a Greyhound bus stop, to help migrants buy bus tickets and make travel arrangements to New Jersey, Florida and other locations, according to a reporter on the ground from BorderReport.com.
On Saturday, Immigration and Customs and Enforcement refused to unload two busloads of migrants at a processing center run by another nonprofit, the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition, because the media were photographing them.
“The ICE official yelled at media . . . repeatedly,” according to BorderReport.com, and the buses eventually drove away with the migrants still on board, destination unknown.
Why the secrecy? The American people are entitled to know who is coming into their country. It’s a matter of national security.
“What’s happening is real-time threats,” Del Rio’s Democratic mayor, Bruno Lozano, said in a video appeal last week, begging Biden and “border tsar” Vice President Kamala Harris to rescue his town from invasion. He fears COVID-19 and other communicable diseases as well as potential terror threats.
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz held a press conference in Del Rio Sunday to announce that the situation was under control.
“No one has crossed since midnight,” he said after a dozen Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles were parked across the entry point to temporarily block migrants from using a dam wall to walk across the river.
Ortiz boasted that 3,300 migrants had been moved out from under the bridge since Friday. As of midday Sunday, there were still 12,600 migrants camping there, with another 3,000 to be moved out by Monday.
But where they are being moved to, he didn’t exactly say.
It turns out just 327 were sent back to Haiti on three flights Sunday, according to a DHS spokesperson. They were reportedly all adult single males. The rest of the 3,300 presumably are family groups who will be processed and released.
Out of sight, out of mind.
With two senior officials resigning in the past week amid the added burden of having to vet thousands of new Afghan refugees, and CNN reporting infighting at the overwhelmed agency, it has been placed in an impossible situation.
Judging by recent history, Bensman says he is certain most of the Haitians camped under the Del Rio bridge will not be deported, even though they are not eligible for asylum because they had work permits and residency in third countries.
“Chile was 1,000 times better than Haiti,” one migrant told him.
“But America is 1 million times better.”
That’s right. The country daily slandered by Democrats as racist is a magnet to black people from around the world. Funny, that.