Haitian activists helping migrants reach final destinations

Religious leaders arrive to find no migrants under international bridge in Del Rio

Haitian activists helping migrants find home

Val Verde County commissioners say the migrants who were camping out in Del Rio are now cleared, just days after almost 15,000 people, most of them Haitians, were seeking asylum.

The area around the international bridge in Del Rio was bulldozed early Friday.

What started last Tuesday with a trickle turned into a deluge of migrants for the people who call Del Rio home. On Friday, the activity moved from the border and bridge to a small community center with a soccer field and many questions.

“A lot of people come through. In three days, we’ve had over 1,000. I don’t even know the numbers for five days,” said Tiffany Burrows, with the Val Verde Humanitarian Coalition.

The community center is a busy place, with new people coming in by the minute. A group of Haitian Americans who arrived to help instead encountered confusion.

Burrows, who has been on the front lines of this humanitarian crisis, says each Haitian has told her the same thing.

“They’re eager to reach their final destination. They’re eager to be with their families and in a country that’s safe,” she said.

Border Patrol vans show up unannounced and drop off families at the Val Verde center, some with very young children. They will be taken care of until they get on a bus to Houston, El Paso, or San Antonio.

Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith and Action, and his group arrived to find a cleaned-up campsite and only a handful of families at the community center who had no idea they were coming.

“(They were) underneath this bridge in 100-degree heat, and now we are told that they’re not here. What happened to them? Where did they go?” Herring questioned.

Herring, who arrived at Del Rio from Maryland, was joined by pastors from Pennsylvania and California. The group says they want to find out what happened to all the people under the bridge.

The Department of Homeland Security says 8,000 of the migrants went back to Mexico voluntarily, and about 2,000 were expelled on 17 flights since Sunday. That leaves about 5,000 migrants in DHS custody, but DHS is not saying where those migrants were placed. It’s assumed they will either be expelled or allowed to make their claims to stay.

The international bridge in Del Rio remains closed, and it may not reopen until Monday.

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Steve Spriester started at KSAT in 1995 as a general assignments reporter. Now, he anchors the station's top-rated 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.