The U.S. closed part of the Texas border and started flying Haitians back to their home country after thousands seeking asylum camped under the international bridge in Del Rio.
On Sunday, the U.S. planned for at least three flights from San Antonio to Haiti, according to the Associated Press.
Local authorities in Del Rio said on Friday at least 12,000 migrants, mostly from Haiti, were taking shelter in temporary tents under the city's international bridge.
Cesar Espinosa, the executive director of FIEL Houston along with other organizations from across the state, traveled to Austin this weekend to call attention to the need in the border town of Del Rio and demanded for lawmakers to find a lasting solution.
"We don't feel that this is the right solution," Espinosa said. "So many people have asked, 'Why are people coming? Why in this manner?' and one of the things we want to point out is that we shouldn't think of these folks as immigrants but rather refugees. We know many things that have happened in Haiti such as political turmoil, the earthquake that just happened, so many things have forced people to take the very long trek."
Renata Castro, an immigration attorney and founder of Castro Legal Group, said the crisis at the border spotlights how the United States' asylum laws are outdated and should put pressure on lawmakers to find a lasting solution, not a temporary Band-Aid.
"It's about time we change the way we treat asylees and those seeking asylum protection, so that they can come here already with their status approved," Castro said. "Instead of feeding this incredibly lucrative system of private immigration jails, putting a strain on our law enforcement in border states and risking the lives of those who are so vulnerable coming to the United States and trying to do what in their eyes, and which is in fact following the law, we can do better than that."
According to the Associated Press, about a dozen Texas DPS vehicles are stationed near the international bridge in Del Rio. Authorities said Haitians have been crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, for almost three weeks now, overwhelming the small border town.
The Mayor of Del Rio tweeted that the U.S. Border Patrol and Gov. Greg Abbott sent additional resources and support to the town this week to help reduce the number of migrants camping under the bridge.
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