Rep. Tony Gonzales: Situation at Texas Migrant Camp a ‘Powder Keg Waiting to Happen’

The situation at a make-shift migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas, is expected to get worse in the coming days. For three weeks, migrants have freely crossed the Rio Grande river from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, a city of about 35,000 people.

The migrants, originally from Haiti, came to Mexico hoping to reach the United States. Some had spent several years in Chile and other South American countries before traveling to Mexico.

The Haitian migrants at the Texas camp are awaiting either deportation from U.S. authorities or are attempting to stay and seek asylum, claiming human rights violations in Haiti. The Haitian president was assassinated July 7, and the country is reeling from earthquakes, poverty, and COVID-19. 

Rep. Tony Gonzales predicted Tuesday that based on the intelligence and information he receives from federal and state law enforcement, community leaders, residents, and the U.S. and Mexican governments, the migrant camp at the international bridge may soon implode.

“Del Rio is going to get bad. It’s going to get real bad in Del Rio. And the reason being is there’s still this impression that ‘come to Del Rio and you’ll be released,'” the Texas Republican said in a phone call, according to the Washington Examiner.

“Once you start expelling these migrants, once they start realizing that they’re being expelled there, they’re going to be unruly. There’s no doubt,” Gonzales said. “If you’re Haitian, you’ve been living in Chile for let’s say five years [and] … you were told, ‘Hey, come to the United States, it’s wide open.’ You pay a cartel $3,000, you make this trek, you come here, you wait under a bridge for three days, four days, whatever it is in the blistering hot sun.

“Then all of a sudden you’re being told, ‘Hey, we’re going to fly you back to Haiti,'” Gonzales said. “There’s a lot at stake, and a lot of people aren’t going to accept that. Right? So, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas visited Del Rio on Monday and said an additional 600 Homeland Security personnel have been sent there, USA Today reported. 

Gonzales said he told Mayorkas that his agency should remove everyone in the camp as quickly as possible because it would avoid thousands being left behind only to learn they may be deported.

Tensions are building, and migrants are already refusing to be deported, the Washington Examiner reported. A federally contracted bus transporting Haitian migrants was hijacked when some people on board overtook the vehicle in an effort to escape. Some fled the bus and were arrested in the vicinity hours later.

“It’s just an absolute powder keg just waiting to happen,” Gonzales said. “And from the migrants’ standpoint, if you’re starting to see people be sent back to their country of origin … As that word of mouth spreads, one way or another, that’s either going to attract more people to come down, or it’s going to attract even more of a chaotic situation.”

The exodus of Haitians fleeing the country can be attributed to earthquakes, poverty, and human rights violations, according to USA Today. 

In August, the Department of State issued a Level 4 travel advisory for Haiti, urging Americans not to visit Haiti because of “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest and COVID-19.”

Related stories:

  • Angry Scenes at Haiti Airport Add to Biden Pressure Over Expulsions
  • White House Endures Bipartisan Backlash on Haitian Migrants
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