DEL RIO, Texas — With 8,600 migrants remaining under the Del Rio International Bridge, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday officials are using "unprecedented" methods to deter migrants from crossing into the state, including parking Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety vehicles for miles along the border to create a "steel barrier."
The surge of migrants -- many of whom are Haitian -- was the result of messages by word of mouth or social media that the border at Del Rio was open, US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said. Chaotic scenes at the bridge, including law enforcement officers on horseback using aggressive tactics against migrants, have sparked anger in both local and federal officials. Some have even called the makeshift camps under the bridge inhumane.
"What you see underneath the bridge, that is not humane," said Brandon Judd, National Border Patrol Council president.
Abbott blamed President Joe Biden's administration for the current situation in Del Rio, saying the federal government is not doing enough to secure the country's southern border. That, Abbott argued, has led to thousands of migrants camped under the Del Rio International Bridge waiting to get processed by U.S. immigration authorities.
"When you have an administration that is not enforcing the law in this country, when you have an administration that has abandoned any pretense of securing the border and securing our sovereignty, you see the onrush of people like what we saw walking across this dam that is right behind me," Abbott said at a news conference in Val Verde County.
The Biden administration is still relying on a Trump-era border policy linked to the coronavirus pandemic that allows border authorities to swiftly remove migrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border. Over recent days, the administration has ramped up those removals and increased the pace of repatriation flights.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the administration hopes to clear out the migrant camp under the bridge within the next nine or 10 days.
"We expect to see dramatic results in the next 48 to 96 hours, and we'll have a far better sense in the next two days," he told senators during a Senate panel hearing Tuesday.