Local Sheriff Praises Efforts to Mitigate Del Rio Migration Crisis Amid Biden's Criticism
04:23 GMT 25.09.2021 (Updated: 06:44 GMT 25.09.2021)
© AP Photo / Isabel Mateos
DEL RIO (Sputnik) - Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Martinez told Sputnik US federal and local authorities accomplished a rigorous task to clear more than 15,000 asylum-seeking migrants from an encampment in the Texas border town of Del Rio, especially because they were able to prevent any injuries or deaths.
“Today at 11:41 [CDT, or 16:41 GMT], watching the last person get on the bus and get out of there was a great feeling of accomplishment to have moved 15,000-plus people out from under that bridge who were living in basically third-world conditions," Martinez said.
Local law enforcement initially did not have enough manpower, food or water to deal with the migration surge last week, however, the arrival of state and federal resources over the last several days improved conditions at the camp.
"These were hectic long days but at the end of the day nobody died, none of the agents were injured or hurt," Martinez said, adding that migrants had all the food, water, and medical aid needed.
Earlier on Friday, President Joe Biden said that images of Border Patrol agents on horseback allegedly mistreating migrants were horrible, and he promised that the agents would pay and there will be consequences.
“If Biden would come down here he would see the good hard work that was being done by all the agents on the ground," Martinez said in response to Biden's comment. "It’s sad that one incident is going to distract from all the hard work that the men and women put into this to get this thing cleaned up in eight days."
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the federal Border Patrol agents involved in the incident involving the alleged whipping of Haitian migrants while on horseback had been assigned to administrative duties and were no longer working with migrants. However, a photographer who documented the incident told US media that the images are being misconstrued, adding that border agents were not whipping the migrants.
“The pictures, the videos that you see do not have the same meaning unless you have feet on the ground and you’re watching with your own eyes. It’s very easy to judge when you’re 2,000 miles away," Martinez said.
The Sheriff emphasized that the migration surge has been steady since Biden came into office on 20 January.
“When they were going through their campaign spill that they were going to be more welcoming, I think they [migrants] paid attention and they listened and when the opportunity came was there they came," Martinez said.
Moreover, Martinez said media coverage of the border crisis in Del Rio showing migrants cross easily into the United States also contributed to the problem.
“With the media being down here March and April and watching these people come across and seeing how easy it is, so I kinda blame some of it on the media and the immigrants too because they call [family] back and say it’s easy and safe on both sides [of the border]," Martinez said. "Smugglers were watching the same media and saw how easy it is."
© REUTERS / GO NAKAMURAAsylum-seeking migrants walk near the International Bridge between Mexico and the US where asylum-seeking migrants are waiting to be processed in Del Rio, Texas, US, September 15, 2021
Asylum-seeking migrants walk near the International Bridge between Mexico and the US where asylum-seeking migrants are waiting to be processed in Del Rio, Texas, US, September 15, 2021
© REUTERS / GO NAKAMURA
Mayorkas said on Friday afternoon that the United States to date conducted 17 flights to Haiti to transport about 2,000 individuals who tried to cross the southern border of the United States. Other migrants from the group in Del Rio are being processed at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities to determine if they are eligible for asylum, according to the sheriff.
US to Reopen Border at Del Rio on Monday After Migrant Influx Stopped
The United States on Monday will reopen the international border crossing on the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas, after it was temporarily closed to deter tens of thousands of migrants that overwhelmed the region last week, Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Martinez told Sputnik.
"They [federal government] assured me that on Monday they’ll be operational at 100 percent," Martinez said.
Martinez said the Biden administration's decision to close the Del Rio port of entry was critical to influencing the Mexican government to take action to deter migrants from coming to the United States.
“I think that when the [Del Rio] international bridge was shut down a week ago, that sent a message [to Mexico] ... there is a price to pay, there’s a cost because that’s our economic engine," Martinez said.
Martinez believes inaction from the Mexican government to help deter the influx of migrants earlier this year may have been because local economies in Mexico benefit from the migration surge.
“The Mexicans, they’re in it because they’re making money if the border is open," Martinez said. "They’re making money off all these Haitians and Venezuelans, whoever is coming through their country because they’re buying food, they’re buying clothing, they’re spending money in their country."
Mexican citizens were unable to come to the United States to attend school or to work with the Del Rio international bridge closed, Martinez said.
"Some of the people that came here [United States] to work in restaurants, they’re stuck over there," Martinez said. "We had restaurants that had to close, so they’re losing money."
Some more migrant caravans may be on their way to the US southern border, Martinez said.
“Intelligence is out there that there’s some more,” Martinez said when asked about other potential migrant caravans headed to the US southern border
Some 15,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, arrived in Del Rio, Texas, last week, prompting Texas to declare a state of emergency and deploy additional state police officers and National Guard troops to stem the surge.