The thousands of primarily Haitian migrants camped out last week under the Del Rio International Bridge are no longer there, which begs the question: Where did they go?
According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 of the 17,400 illegal immigrants detained in Del Rio have been released into the U.S. as their cases are considered by immigration judges.
“They’re released on conditions. Approximately, I think it’s about 10,000 or so, 12,000,” said Mr. Mayorkas under grilling from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.
About 5,000 of the 17,400 are still being processed by the department, which means the number of those released could grow, while 3,000 are in detention.
Mr. Mayorkas said that “it could be even higher. The number that are returned could be even higher. What we do is we follow the law as Congress has passed it.”
About 30,000 Haitian migrants have come across the border since Sept. 9. At one point, an estimated 15,000 illegal immigrants were living under the bridge in makeshift tents and structures, as shown in viral television footage, but the latest shots show the Del Rio camp has been entirely cleared.
“If, in fact, someone is not expelled under the public health authority of the Centers for Disease Control, then they are placed in immigration enforcement proceedings,” Mr. Mayorkas said. “They have an opportunity to make their claim for relief to a judge as the law requires.”
The department said Friday that about 2,000 migrants had been deported on flights back to Haiti, and 8,000 returned voluntarily to Mexico.
Mr. Wallace said that about 44% of released illegal immigrants miss their court hearings, meaning that “millions of people end up in this country and just disappear,” but Mr. Mayorkas said “it is our intention to remove them.”
“Chris, 11 million people in this country without lawful presence is a compelling reason why there is unanimity about the fact that our immigration system is broken and legislative reform is needed,” Mr. Mayorkas said.