DEL RIO, TX –– After thousands of illegal Haitian migrants overwhelmed the southern border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the reopening of the Del Rio Port of Entry.
As agents worked to process the thousands of illegal immigrants arriving at Del Rio, all traffic was rerouted to the Eagle Pass Port of Entry since September 17th.
"Less than one week ago, there were approximately 15,000 migrants in Del Rio, Texas, the great majority of whom were Haitian nationals. This was the result of an unprecedented movement of a very large number of people traveling to a single point of the border within a matter of a few days," said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas during a press briefing on Friday. "As of this morning, there are no longer any migrants in the camp underneath the Del Rio International Bridge."
According to Secretary Mayorkas, the United States Agency for International Development "established a $5.5 million program to provide on-the-ground assistance to repatriated Haitian migrants."
To reduce the number of illegal immigrants at the border, the Department of Homeland Security completed 17 expulsion flights that transported approximately 2,000 individuals back to Haiti.
According to Mayorkas, an estimated 8,000 illegal immigrants returned to Mexico voluntarily while more than 5,000 are currently "being processed by DHS to determine whether they will be expelled or placed in immigration removal proceedings under Title 8."
According to CBP, all passenger traffic will be allowed to resume on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. and all cargo traffic can resume on Monday at 8:00 a.m.
The Del Rio Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol shared the following message on social media on Friday afternoon.
"The United States Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector would like to thank the Department of Homeland Security, the city of Del Rio, Val Verde County, our countless law enforcement partners, and everyone who worked tirelessly around the clock to care for and safely and humanely transport those migrants."
During the briefing, Mayorkas also addressed the controversy around the images involving Border Patrol agents on horseback that went viral.
When asked if the use of horses will remain a customary practice for the Border Patrol, Mayorkas gave the following explanation.
"What the horse patrol is customarily used to do — for everyone’s benefit — is — you know, horses are able to cross terrain that might not otherwise be traversed. And what they often do — and, in fact, most often do — is assess the situation and actually assist in helping people in distress. And that horse patrol — the horse patrol that the Customs and Border Protection employs — the Border Patrol, specifically — has actually saved lives many times before. But we will take a look."
But Mayorkas confirmed the Office of Inspector General will launch an investigation into the matter and that the agents involved in the incidents have been assigned to administrative duties and are not interacting with migrants while the investigation is ongoing.
"In the midst of meeting these challenges, we — our entire nation — saw horrifying images that do not reflect who we are, who we aspire to be, or the integrity and values of our truly heroic personnel in the Department of Homeland Security," said Mayorkas. "The investigation into what occurred has not yet concluded. We know that those images painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism. I directed the personnel from the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility to be on-site in Del Rio full-time to ensure adherence to the policies, training, and values of our department. The highest levels of the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility are leading the investigation, which will conclude quickly. The results of the investigation I will make public."