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Haitian Migrants Cleared From Texas Border Camp, But Where Are They?

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – No migrants remain at the Texas border encampment where almost 15,000 people, most of them Haitians, had converged seeking asylum, local and federal officials said.

The border crossing in Del Rio, Texas was partially opened Saturday afternoon for trade and travel operations, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection in a statement. Cargo traffic was set to reopen on Monday.

The agency temporarily closed the crossing on Sept. 17 and rerouted traffic to the one in Eagle Pass, Texas, after as many as 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants suddenly crossed into Del Rio from Mexico and made camp around the U.S. side of the border bridge.

While the border is back to normal operation, the outrage over how the Haitians were treated while under the bridge remain.

Sunday, a coalition of Haitian American pastors in collaboration with civic organizations, held an emergency press conference.

The group says the Call to Action Community Rally draws support for those in need and Miami Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava was among those speaking out.

"We need to stop deporting people to Haiti right now and help those in need," she said.

CBS4 also spoke to Father Reginal Jean-Mary, the pastor of Miami's Notre Dame D'Haiti Mission Parish. He went to the southern border to assess the Haitian migrant situation and said he is now calling on the Biden administration to disclose where the thousands of migrants have been taken to.

Mexico US Border Migrants
This photo combination shows an area where migrants, many from Haiti, were encamped along the Del Rio International Bridge on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, and a photo showing the area after it was cleared off by authorities, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Last weekend, the number of migrants at the border crossing connecting Del Rio, Texas, and Ciudad Acuña, Mexico peaked driven by confusion over the Biden administration's policies and misinformation on social media.

According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, about 4,000 of the migrants, apprehended by US Customs and Border Protection in Del Rio were expelled under a COVID-19 public health rule, known as Title 42 and 10,000 to 12,000 were released into the U.S.

"That is a public health authority. It is not an immigration policy. It is exercised as the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention), has ordered, in light of the arc of the pandemic," Mayorkas told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." "The public has to remember that we are in the midst of a pandemic. The Delta variant caused a setback. This is a public health imperative to protect migrants themselves, local communities, our personnel and the American public."

Some of the migrants returned to Mexico while the U.S. allowed about 12,400 migrants to enter the county, temporarily, while they make claims before an immigration judge to stay in the country under the asylum laws or some other reason. They could ultimately be denied and be removed, said Mayorkas.

In March 2020, the Trump administration enacted the Title 42 policy which allowed border officials to turn back migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border, a move that in effect sealed off the border in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Biden administration has relied on it to turn away adults and families apprehended at the US southern border. Unaccompanied children remain exempt from the policy.

A federal judge late last week ruled that the rule was improper and gave the government two weeks to halt it, but the Biden administration appealed.

Officials said the U.S. State Department is in talks with Brazil and Chile to allow some Haitians who previously resided in those countries to return, but it's complicated because some of them no longer have legal status there.

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