Two flights carried the first group of Haitian migrants that had gathered near the U.S.-Mexico border back to the country on Sunday morning. Photo by Abraham Pineda-jacome/EPA-EFE
Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The first group of Haitians deported from the U.S.-Mexico border arrived back in the country on Sunday.
Bruno Lozano, mayor of Del Rio, Texas, said two flights transporting the migrants back to Haiti departed at around 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.
It was not immediately known what airports the flights departed from.
Nearly 13,000 migrants remain under the International Bridge in Del Rio and the surrounding area after the Biden administration on Saturday pledged to ramp up the deportations.
Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said at a press conference Sunday that the administration expects to have 3,000 migrants transferred away from the bridge within the next 24 hours.
"They will be removed and they will be sent back to their country of origin," Ortiz said.
Jean Negot Bonheur Delve, head of Haiti's national migration office, said the Haitian state was "not really able" to receive the deportees.
"We are here to say welcome, they can come back and stay in Haiti but they are very agitated," said Bonheur Delva. "They don't accept the forced return."
The deportation flights are expected to continue into next week and are part of President Joe Biden's six-part strategy to address the surge at the border bridge between Texas and Mexico.
More than 50 Democratic lawmakers on Saturday urged the Biden administration in a letter to halt deportations to Haiti and instead focus on humanitarian relief in the wake of the assassination of the country's president, Jovenel Moise, in July and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake last month that killed over 2,000 Haitians.