STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The U.S. special envoy to Haiti has resigned in protest. His name is Daniel Foote, and he quit his job, protesting what he called an inhumane deportation policy of Haitians. This refers to Haitians seeking asylum who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. You may recall that thousands have been staying under a bridge at Del Rio, Texas. U.S. border agents have, in fact, deported some back to Haiti; others have crossed back to Mexico in frustration. And there is today also news that U.S. border agents are releasing some into the United States to await court dates. NPR's Carrie Kahn joins us now from Piedras Negras, across the Texas border in Mexico. Hey there, Carrie.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning.
INSKEEP: What do things look like in the last 24 hours?
KAHN: It appears there are about 5- or 6,000 people still under the bridge or in improvised tents there. The media is not being allowed into the camp, so it's hard to say exactly. Hundreds of migrants, like you said, have been released into the U.S., and they're being bussed to other Texas cities, where they can go where they want. Many are heading to relatives. And I spent some time at the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition in Del Rio, which is run by Tiffany Burrows. She says in the past three days, they've helped more than a thousand people board buses north. Yesterday, they hit a record.
TIFFANY BURROW: This is definitely a banner day. We haven't assisted 400 people in the history of our existence.
INSKEEP: So who gets to stay in the U.S. and who doesn't?
KAHN: We don't know exactly how that determination's being made. The Department of Homeland Security isn't answering that question, but it appears that families with children are the ones being allowed into the country. I met a very relieved 29-year-old man, Jean Baptiste, on the U.S. side in Del Rio. He was boarding a bus heading for Houston with his wife and 3-year-old daughter.
JEAN BAPTISTE: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: We were talking in Spanish, and he says he was very stressed out. He was worried that he was going to be deported back to Haiti, which he left in 2017. He says he's heading to an uncle in the U.S.
INSKEEP: Carrie Kahn, I'm still trying to get my brain around how all this happened. These are Haitians for the most part, and we know that Haiti has had a terrible time with a presidential assassination and storm damage, but these Haitians weren't in Haiti at the time. They were somewhere in Latin America. Is it better understood how so many of them, maybe up to 14,000, abruptly appeared on the Texas border at a specific spot?
KAHN: Yeah, I'm trying to get my head around that, too, Steve. I don't have a complete answer to that. Most of these migrants from Haiti left years before these latest events. This is a rural area, and people have been coming for months here to cross, but just not in these numbers. And it is really quite a stunning logistical feat that all these migrants, mostly Haitians, suddenly traveled 1,500 miles from southern Mexico, where most were staged, in dozens of buses and arrived here within days of each other. I can say many communicate through social media, and they do follow each other - and they did - and they do follow each other, how to get to this crossing.
INSKEEP: What are Haitians telling you about why they came now?
KAHN: Well, I asked Jean Baptiste, the man heading to Houston, that exact question. He said he was in Chile for the past four years and was barely eking out a living. And his goal since leaving Haiti was to get to the U.S., so he heard about Del Rio, and he decided to come. So I asked him, what is he telling his friends making their way north to the U.S. now? Here's what he said.
BAPTISTE: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: He said he's telling them to try. Come, and give it a shot.
INSKEEP: What is the Mexican government doing about all of this, as some of these people continue crossing and others cross back?
KAHN: Mexican immigration officials have begun removing people from the Mexican side of the border. In Ciudad Acuna, across from Del Rio, there were some pre-dawn raids on hotels and parks. And they're sending them - flying them back to southern Mexico, even expelling them to Guatemala.
INSKEEP: Thanks very much. That's NPR's Carrie Kahn.
KAHN: You're welcome.
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