The mass of migrants camped out underneath a bridge in Texas swelled to more than 9,000 Thursday as the Biden administration struggled to control a new hotspot testing its ability to manage the border.
One law enforcement source said there were about 4,500 on Wednesday, and by Thursday afternoon the group had doubled to 9,145 people, most of them Haitian migrants, with some Venezuelans and Cubans also present.
They have flooded the border in Del Rio, Texas, and the Border Patrol says it has nowhere to put them. So they’ve been told to wait under the International Bridge for a chance to be processed. Customs and Border Protection says the bridge at least provides shade to protect them from heat-related illnesses.
Local officials have pleaded for assistance from the federal government.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that CBP had asked him to help shut down the ports of entry to try to block newcomers. Mr. Abbott said CBP then reversed itself within six hours.
A CBP spokesman said no agreement to shut down the ports of entry was reached, according to the Texas Tribune.
Mr. Abbott was withering in his criticism.
“The Biden administration is in complete disarray and is handling the border crisis as badly as the evacuation from Afghanistan,” he said. “I have directed the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard to maintain their presence at and around ports of entry to deter crossings.”
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said the Del Rio mayor believes 20,000 more migrants are on the way.
He said the mayor has asked for more resources, but “there is currently no indication help is coming.”
A CBP spokesman told The Washington Times on Wednesday that the Border Patrol would increase manpower and work with other federal agencies. He called the underside of the bridge “a temporary staging site.”
The migrants entered without authorization and are demanding protections, but they have overwhelmed the Border Patrol, which can’t even process them. The group camped under the bridge is still not technically in custody, Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez said.
The migrants are part of an unprecedented surge aiming to take advantage of the more relaxed enforcement posture of the Biden administration, which has erased key get-tough Trump policies.