AP PHOTOS: Haitian migrants flock to small Texas border city

September 20, 2021 GMT

Thousands of Haitian migrants flocked to a small Texas border city, presenting the Biden administration with a challenge as it tries to manage large numbers of asylum-seekers.

U.S. authorities have moved to expel many of the more 12,000 migrants who were camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Officials are also trying to to block others from crossing the border from Mexico.

It’s a massive show of force that signals the beginning of what could be one of America’s swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades.

In recent days, many Haitians crossed the Rio Grande into the U.S. Some then waded back through the river to buy supplies in Mexico before returning to the Texas encampment.

Haitians carried boxes on their heads filled with food as they crossed the river. Some removed their pants before getting into the river and carried them, while others were unconcerned about getting wet.

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Haitians have been migrating to the U.S. in large numbers from South America for several years, many having left their Caribbean nation after a devastating 2010 earthquake. After jobs dried up from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made the dangerous trek by foot, bus and car to the U.S. border.

Some of the migrants at the Del Rio camp said a recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse make them afraid to return to a country that seems more unstable than when they left.