DEL RIO, Texas -- Thousands of asylum-seeking migrants — most of them from Haiti — are waiting under an international bridge in Del Rio to be processed to enter the country, according to Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez.
Though Del Rio has seen a sharp rise in migrant apprehensions this year, the sheriff said people have been arriving in unusually high numbers in recent days. On Saturday, he said, there were 2,500 migrants waiting under the port of entry bridge. By Thursday morning, that number had grown to about 8,400, he said.
Martinez estimated about 70% of the migrants are from Haiti, which has been struck by two recent tragedies: the assassination of the country’s president in July, followed by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August that destroyed thousands of homes.
The migrants seeking to turn themselves in are being sent to wait under the bridge and are given a ticket to mark their turn to be processed, Martinez said.
“Border Patrol is overwhelmed,” he said. “They just can’t process them fast enough, so there’s a backlog of these individuals underneath the bridge. They’re not detained, they’re just gathered there waiting their turn to get processed.”
In August, federal agents recorded 5,196 encounters with Haitians in the Del Rio sector, a 25% increase from the previous month, according to the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics.
A CBP spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.