‘We’re ready’: After issues in Del Rio, Mayorkas says DHS is prepared for additional groups of Haitian migrants

USA TODAY

Amid reports of thousands of Haitian migrants again heading to the U.S.-Mexico border, the head of the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday the Biden administration has learned from the unexpected wave of migrants who came last month and is prepared for the possibility of additional groups. After the administration faced criticism for its treatment of more than 10,000 Haitian migrants who had gathered under a bridge at the United States’ southern border, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas told the USA TODAY Editorial Board and newsroom journalists that his agency has developed plans to address additional groups of migrants. “It was most certainly a challenge that we had not encountered previously,” Mayorkas said of the roughly 15,000 Haitian migrants who set up camp under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, last month. “And what we have done now, is we have developed plans that should something like that occur again, we’re ready for it.” Panama Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes told Axios last week that since the beginning of 2021, more than 85,000 Haitians have crossed through Panama and she believes they are all heading on to the United States. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Saturday that “Texas National Guard is gearing up at the border for increased caravans attempting to cross the border.” Mayorkas noted that resources that were brought in to address the previous group of migrants have been “lined up already” in case the need arises again. He noted the department is ready to deploy personnel, as well as call upon humanitarian resources, food supplies, facilities, transportation and medical care. Less than a week after the first reports of Haitians camped out under the bridge last month, the United States cleared the camp. Thousands of migrants appeared before an immigration judge to see if they would be allowed to stay in the U.S., or returned to Mexico voluntarily. Several thousand also were flown to Haiti for repatriation or were processed by the U.S. government to determine their immigration status.

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