Border Patrol agents in Del Rio, Texas were so concerned about the escalating situation at the U.S.-Mexico border that they requested additional resources three months ago – but their concerns were not acted on by superiors.
Jon Anfinsen, National Border Patrol Council local president told CNN that the union on June 1 suggested improvements to the system.
Anfinsen said that they wanted agents to be sent to the border with tablets to start the intake process when a large group crosses the river, instead of having the group wait there while space is cleared in the station.
‘This way, we can at least get part of the process finished before they even get to the station instead of wasting that time,’ said the email.
The union followed up on June 3, and also suggested placing a trailer in the area for additional staff, to deal with a predicted surge.
On June 17, the union received a one-sentence response: ‘This is being explored, several other platforms are being considered which are more efficient.’
The revelation came as Jen Psaki, the White House spokesman, promised to provide precise data on the number of Haitian arrivals released into the country – yet by 10pm had failed to do so.
Migrants, many of them from Haiti, are pictured wading back and forth between Texas and Mexico on Wednesday. At the weekend an estimated 14,000 migrants were sheltering in Del Rio
A photo from September 22 shows migrants being routed out of a makeshift border camp after being processed by US officials. The White House has pledged to deport most of the migrants back to Haiti under Title 42, but reports indicate that’s not the case for some being released
Migrants exit a Border Patrol bus and prepare to be received by the Val Verde Humanitarian Coalition after crossing the Rio Grande on Wednesday
Jon Anfinsen, National Border Patrol Council local president, pictured testifying before Congress, said on Wednesday that they had warned back in June about the need for more resources on the U.S.-Mexico border
At her daily press briefing on Wednesday, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy confronted Psaki on the numbers – which he said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas didn’t know.
‘So who else can we ask?’ Doocy asked.
When Psaki attempted to direct him back to DHS, an incredulous Doocy replied: ‘He says he doesn’t know.’
She replied: ‘I am confident that he wanted to have the most up-to-date numbers and we will venture to get you those – I promise, this afternoon.’
Doocy told Sean Hannity on his 9-10pm show on Fox that Psaki was yet to provide the figures.
Mayorkas, meanwhile, was at the Capitol on Wednesday for his second day of back-to-back Congressional hearings.
Republican Florida Rep. Carlos Gimenez asked Mayorkas today about how many of the migrants apprehended at the border this year were detained, returned or ‘dispersed.’
‘I would be pleased to provide you with specific data subsequent to this hearing, congressman,’ Mayorkas answered.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a Fox News reporter that he’ll get updated numbers on the migrant crisis this afternoon
Peter Doocy grilled Psaki on the Biden administration’s perceived inaction on immigration reform
Gimenez accused Mayorkas of being unprepared for the hearing, to which the DHS chief snapped about his long work hours.
‘I work 18 hours a day, OK? So when I returned from yesterday’s hearing, I actually focused on mission. We will get that data, both to the senator who posed it yesterday and to you, congressman, today,’ he said.
It follows on from Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate when Mayorkas still could not provide migrant data.
‘I want some numbers here,’ said Ron Johnson, a Republican senator for Wisconsin.
‘Of the 1.3 million people that we’ve apprehended, how many people have been returned? How many people are being detained? How many people have been dispersed to all points around America?’
DHS Secretary Mayorkas was grilled by lawmakers in back-to-back hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday. He was at the border on Monday
‘Senator, I would be pleased to provide you with that data — ‘ Mayorkas said before he was cut off.
‘I want them now,’ Johnson demanded. ‘Why don’t you have that information now?’
‘Senator, I do not have that data before me,’ Mayorkas replied.
‘Why not? Why don’t you have that basic information?’ the senator asked.
‘Senator, I want to be accurate,’ Mayorkas said.
On Wednesday, Johnson wrote to Mayorkas formally requesting the figures.
‘At yesterday’s Senate hearing you failed to answer my questions about basic information on apprehensions at the U.S. border,’ he wrote.
‘Of the approximately 1.3 million apprehensions, how many people have been returned, how many people have been detained, and how many people have been dispersed into the U.S.?’
Johnson said he would like a response within a week.
The secretary revealed Tuesday that around 5,000 migrants have been removed from the encampment surrounding the Del Rio International Bridge, as the Department of Homeland Security launches a probe into agents on horseback using what appeared to be whips against the mostly Haitian migrants.
‘How many migrants have crossed into the United States in Del Rio over the past week?’ Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley asked Mayorkas.
‘So last week, I think the high point was 13,000-15,000 – it is now well below 10,000. We continue to move individuals from Del Rio to other processing centers to facilitate their repatriation,’ the DHS secretary responded.
‘We have increased the number of repatriation flights to Haiti and to other countries,’ Mayorkas added.
It was revealed this week DHS is aiming to send out several deportation flights per day.
Migrants stand in line while awaiting transport out of a border makeshift camp along the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 22
U.S. Border Patrol agents ride near a migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas on September 22
Mayorkas also refused to say whether he felt he and the Biden administration bear any responsibility for the influx of Haitian migrants over the last few weeks or the broader border crisis in general.
The DHS chief visited the border after increasing pressure to do so as images of mostly Haitian migrants in a tent city under the Del Rio bridge spurred accusations the Biden administration was enabling a humanitarian crisis.
The White House is facing sharp bipartisan condemnation.
Republicans say Biden administration policies led Haitians to believe they would get asylum.
Democrats are expressing outrage after images went viral this week of Border Patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics against the migrants.
Many of the 8,600 who remain there have resorted to fashioning makeshift tents using discarded clothing and tree branches in order to provide at least some shelter from the elements.
The heat has been punishing over the last week with temperatures soaring into the high 90s. Families have resorted to bathing in the grimy water of the Rio Grande river to cool off.
The squalor is more reminiscent of a Developing World country than the land of the American dream, which thousands of migrants have fled to in the hopes of claiming asylum and building a better life.
Empty water bottles, food containers and other litter is strewn around while mountains of garbage tower up high into the air.
An aerial photo shows the huge piles of garbage from above, which are seen just steps away from the places young children call home.
In another image, women and young children are seen lying among plastic bottles and an empty Oreo packet, on the ground which is covered in the remnants of trees that have been used to fashion the shelters.
Another photo shows a Haitian passport in a pile of trash including empty aluminum cans, an old shoe and discarded clothing.
The cramped conditions have also fueled fears of a COVID-19 outbreak – especially given that the migrants crossing the border are not required to be vaccinated before entering the US.
Women and young children are seen lying on the ground of the camp among plastic bottles, empty Oreo packets and food containers
A young girl stands in the place that she currently calls home in a makeshift camp under the Del Rio bridge in Texas
A Haitian passport is seen in a pile of trash near the International Bridge between Mexico and the US Tuesday night
A migrant walks past a pile of garbage at the camp under the Del Rio bridge in Texas on the US-Mexico border Tuesday night
An aerial photo shows the huge piles of garbage which lie just steps away from the places young children sleep
Almost 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants were camped out under the bridge at the weekend after crossing into the US from Mexico.
Many fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and have been living in South American countries including Brazil and Chile.
But since these nations have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, many Haitians have traveled up through South America and Mexico to seek asylum in the US.
Biden has been blamed after a May proclamation that Haitians in the US would not be deported for 18 months because of instability in their home country, and could apply for documentation to work in the US.
That only applied to Haitians already in the US at the time, but thousands have since made the trip to the border in a bid to take advantage of it.
Most of them live in Chile and Brazil, having moved there after the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed 200,000.
Border Patrol agents struggling to process the vast numbers of people quickly enough set up the makeshift camp under the bridge as a temporary home.
Last week, concerns rose that there would not be enough food, water and basic supplies to provide for the thousands of migrants living at the site.
Meanwhile, Mexico has begun busing and flying Haitian migrants away from the U.S. border, authorities said Tuesday, signaling a new level of support for the United States.
Mexico has helped at key moments before.
It intensified patrols to stop unaccompanied Central American children from reaching the Texas border in 2014, allowed tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration courts in 2019 and, just last month, began deporting Central American migrants to Guatemala after the Biden administration flew them to southern Mexico.
Thousands are forced to sleep on the bare ground or on rugs laid among the debris of trees cut down to be used as shelter
Shocking images have emerged of the squalid and fetid migrant camp under the Del Rio bridge in Texas that is currently home to thousands of Haitian migrants
Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign relations secretary, said Tuesday he had spoken with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, about the Haitians’ situation.
Ebrard said most of the Haitians already had refugee status in Chile or Brazil and weren’t seeking it in Mexico.
‘What they are asking for is to be allowed to pass freely through Mexico to the United States,’ Ebrard said.
In Haiti, dozens of migrants upset about being deported from the U.S. tried to rush back into a plane that landed Tuesday afternoon in Port-au-Prince as they yelled at authorities.
A security guard closed the plane door in time as some deportees began throwing rocks and shoes at the plane.
Several of them lost their belongings in the scuffle as police arrived.
The group was disembarking from one of three flights scheduled for the day.