DEL RIO, Texas — No migrants remained Friday at the Texas border encampment where almost 15,000 people — most of them Haitians — had converged just days earlier seeking asylum, local and federal officials said.
It’s a dramatic change from last Saturday, when the number peaked as migrants driven by confusion over the Biden administration’s policies and misinformation on social media converged at the border crossing connecting Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
President Biden on Friday blasted the way border agents used their horses, saying it was “horrible” and that “people will pay” as a result. The agents have been assigned to administrative duties while the administration investigates.
“There will be consequences,” Biden told reporters. “It’s an embarrassment, but it’s beyond an embarrassment — it’s dangerous, it’s wrong, it sends the wrong message around the world and sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are.”
Later, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spoke cautiously about the pending investigation into the use of horses. Asked about the discrepancy, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “was not prejudging an outcome. He was speaking from the heart.” She said he is not interfering with any investigation.
Mayorkas said about 2,000 Haitians have been rapidly expelled on 17 flights since Sunday and more could be expelled in coming days under pandemic powers that deny people the chance to seek asylum.
He said the U.S. has allowed about 12,400 to enter the country, at least temporarily, while they make claims before an immigration judge to stay in the country under the asylum laws or for some other legal reason. They could ultimately be denied and would be subject to removal.
Mayorkas said about 5,000 are in DHS custody and being processed to determine whether they will be expelled or allowed to press their claim for legal residency. Some returned to Mexico.