Reuters A U.S. border patrol officer crosses the path of an immigrant asylum seeker as he tries to return to the United States on the banks of the Rio Grande River, after crossing from the U.S. to Mexico to buy food, as can be seen from Ciudad Akuna
By Dena Beth Solomon and Alberto Fazardo
CIUDAD ACUÑA, MEXICO (Reuters) – A U.S. law enforcement officer on horseback appeared to be a lorry and was whipping it near the mouth of a man carrying a plastic bag of food in Rio Grande.
It was just a desperate moment in a few hours of such scenes along the Rio Grande on Sunday.
Hundreds of Haitian migrants camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, were trying to bring food and other supplies from Ciudad Aquana in Mexico’s Cohuila state when U.S. officials tightened security at the border and began flying migrants out of the area, some into Haiti.
Immigrants say they lack the supply of illegal camps under U.S. bridges along the river. For the past few days, U.S. officials have allowed migrants to cross a shallow spot on the river. But on Sunday they told immigrants they would not be able to return to the United States if they entered Mexico.
“We’re stuck,” said Jansito Jean, 37, who slept on a sheet on the ground with his wife and children, aged 3 and 4.
“There is no human condition … we have to go out to buy water.”
More than 12,000 migrants, identified by officials on both sides as mostly Haitians, have gathered under the bridge in recent days, awaiting the immigration process. Instead, U.S. officials began removing thousands of people from the camps over the weekend -2021-09-19, some of whom were later seen arriving in Haiti.
Still, several people who spoke to Reuters, most of whom traveled with their children, said they would take the opportunity to try to stay in the United States.
McKinley Pierre, 25, left poor Haiti in July with his cousin, wife and 2-year-old daughter, amid growing violence and an inability to find work as an electrician. Haiti’s president was assassinated in July, and a major earthquake and strong storm hit the country in August.
“You have to do something to keep you from getting hungry,” he said.
At a news conference in Del Rio on Sunday, US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said resources were being found.
“We are providing food, water, portable toilets, towels, emergency medical technicians for first aid.”
“Our goal in the next 6 to 7 days is to process 12,662 migrants which we can get under the bridge as soon as possible,” Ortiz said. “What we want to make sure is that we prevent immigrants from coming to the area so that we can handle the people under the bridge at the moment.”
At the border, immigrants go deeper to try to avoid law enforcement. Most men, many barefoot and boxers, tried to run through waist-deep water. Some migrants crossed another point where water reached their necks.
Reuters reporters saw Mount officers blocking the way for migrants crossing the U.S. embankment carrying plastic bags and cardboard boxes with “Police US Border Patrol” wearing cowboy hats and jackets.
An officer in the West untied a cord like a laurel whip and rode his horse to stop the immigrants, one fell into the water again. He got up and tried again, but the officer swayed the cord back to his mouth.
In another incident, the same officer grabbed the back of an immigrant’s shirt while trying to run a bank with a bag of food.
Both men were eventually seen slipping while officers tried to catch the migrants who were scattered all around. A group of about two dozen people were later seen sitting on the U.S. side of the river bank behind yellow tape near a few patrol vehicles.