The 5,000 immigrants missing from Del Rio are fleeing south to Mexico City and Monterrey in a bid to avoid the Biden administration’s deportation flights, DailyMail.com has learned.
Thousands of Haitians have been seen purchasing tickets at the Ciudad Acuna bus station in the past two days and say they plan to disappear into the black economy while they raise funds for a fresh attempt to cross the US border.
Most say they will not return to Del Rio but will instead pursue a more expensive route: paying a cartel smuggler to bring them across in the Rio Grande Valley or via the Arizona desert.
Photos obtained by DailyMail.com show some of the Haitians gathered at the transport hub, with some showing off their tickets which state the destination as Monterrey.
Others were seen buying tickets to Nogales – a Mexican border city that is just 68 miles south of Tucson, Arizona.
Thousands of Haitian migrants have been seen purchasing tickets at the Ciudad Acuna bus station in the past two days and say they plan to disappear
Photos obtained by DailyMail.com show some of the Haitians gathered at the transport hub, with some showing off their tickets which state the destination as Monterrey
Others were seen buying tickets to Nogales – a Mexican border city that is just 68 miles south of Tucson, Arizona
Most of the migrants say they will not return to Del Rio, but instead will pay a cartel smuggler to bring them across in the Rio Grande Valley or via the Arizona desert
Monterrey, a city of five million people in the northern state of Nuevo León, is just over 300 miles south of Del Rio and within striking distance of other border cities such as Eagle Pass.
Migrant expert Todd Bensmann of the Center for Immigration Studies told DailyMail.com: ‘A lot of those Haitians fled.
A Haitian migrant showed DailyMail.com his ticket at the bus station is Ciudad Acuna, Mexico
‘They just fled back over that river and ran. Hundreds and hundreds of them that I saw. I personally saw.
‘They told me they were fleeing because of the deportation flights.’
One man said he had been purchasing food for his family in Ciudad Acuna when Border Patrol began loading buses.
He said he had returned to find his wife and child gone and only realized what had happened when he received a call from his wife saying she had landed in Port-au-Prince.
The man added: ‘She called me on the phone. I am not taking this well.’
He was among the hundreds of migrants purchasing tickets to other Mexican cities and said he would work in Tapachula while he works out whether to rejoin his wife in Haiti or find a way to get her back to Mexico.
Bensmann says most made their way to the local bus station where they purchased tickets for other Mexican cities where they hope to be allowed to work.
He said: ‘A lot of them were in the bus station and it was full of them buying tickets to Tapachula, Mexico City and Monterrey.
‘When I asked them, what are you going to do there? The answer was, well we’re going to get Mexican work documents and wait until this [the deportation flights] passes.
‘Then we’re going to try it again.’
The Biden administration has repeatedly refused to account for the whereabouts of 5,000 migrants from the Del Rio bridge encampment which numbered 15,000 at its peak last weekend.
A makeshift border migrant camp is seen at daybreak along the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas, on Wednesday
The Biden administration has refused to account for the whereabouts of 5,000 migrants from the Del Rio bridge encampment which numbered 15,000
As of Thursday, the administration said 5,000 migrants were left in the Del Rio International Bridge camp, while 1,401 had been sent back to Haiti on 12 flights.
A further 3,206 remain in ICE custody awaiting a decision on whether they will be expelled or allowed to apply for asylum in the US.
Bensmann said the exodus had been fueled by texts from friends and family members who had found themselves back in Port-au-Prince or Cap Haitien following a deportation flight.
He said the majority had no wish to return to Haiti but were also unwilling to return to their old lives in Chile or Brazil where most of the migrants have lived since a catastrophic earthquake in 2010 forced them out of their homes.
‘They would far prefer Mexico over Haiti,’ Bensmann said. ‘They don’t want to go back to Chile because for one thing, it’s too far.
‘The way they got here was through the Darien Gap jungle – nobody goes the other way back through that passage.
‘I suppose you could fly back to Chile but nobody wants to do that because if you can just find a way to stay in Mexico, deportation mania will pass and they’ll just quietly cross over somewhere else where there’s no media and no camp.
‘They’re just going to wait for another day and then they’ll cross through. So if the administration is never able to account for another 5,000, there’s only one explanation. T
‘hey know how many came in for sure because they gave a ticket, a numbered ticket to every Haitian that entered and they logged it in a book. So they definitely know how many came in.
‘If they can’t account for four or five thousand, there is only one explanation for that and that’s how many fled back into Mexico.’
DailyMail.com learned that the majority of Haitians in Del Rio have actually come from Chile or Brazil, where they have been living as refugees for years, and only set off for the US after Biden opened the borders
Bensmann added that the majority of those staying in Mexico were now looking for alternative places to cross such as in the Rio Grande Valley.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘Haitians have been surging on the southern border since at least January or February in very large numbers.
‘They have mostly been going to the Rio Grande Valley area – that’s where all those big family units have been waved through and been given those personal recognizance papers in large numbers. And that’s still happening.
‘All these people really need to do is just pivot to the south. They need to pay cartels there but if they can get the money for it, they’ll simply just cross in there where nobody seems to care that so many are crossing.
‘About 600,000 people have been allowed to cross and get residency in the Rio Grande Valley alone in the last six or seven months. ‘
In total, 1.3m people have been picked up by Border Patrol on the southern border in the last eight months.
It is unclear how many have been deported, although DailyMail.com has confirmed that the administration is running daily removal flights to Guatemala City and San Salvador, as well as Haitian hubs Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien.