Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has revealed that the Biden administration began the asylum process for thousands of Haitian migrants who last week sat at a growing encampment near the border in Del Rio, Texas.
Between 10,000 to 12,000 people from the camp, which at its peak was around 15,000 people, were admitted to the US on a conditional basis as their asylum claims are processed, the DHS secretary said on Sunday.
Immigrant rights advocates and Democrats, including prominent Black lawmakers from the party like Rep Maxine Waters, had called for the Biden administration to admit all or some of the crowds of thousands gathered in Del Rio due to the ongoing political instability in Haiti caused by the assassination of its president and the dire state of affairs resulting from a tropical storm and earthquake striking the island within a few days of each other.
Asylum claims are meant to allow migrants with credible fears of facing violence or other dangers in their home countries to enter the US; it is a legal process to which all migrants are entitled to apply for, but individuals must be present at the US border or already inside the US to make such a claim. Such immigrants are not considered undocumented, though conservative critics of the administration have largely not bothered to even make that distinction.
“They’re released on conditions..approximately I think 10,000 or so, 12,000,” Mr Mayorkas said of the Del Rio migrants on Fox News Sunday.
He went on to confirm that the number “could” expand as the fates of 5,000 who are currently in processing are determined.
The Del Rio encampment became a political firestorm for the Biden administration over the past week, with the White House fielding criticism from both sides on the issue. Conservatives and supporters of former President Donald Trump have pushed the Biden administration for months to turn away more immigrants at the border and keep in place Trump-era restrictions on asylum and entry; while progressives and Democrats have decried the treatment of the mostly Black migrants as inhumane and called for compassion in response to the thousands of Haitians fleeing violence and devastation at home.
More to follow...
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