Homeland Security announced late Friday that it was shutting down the border crossing in Del Rio, Texas, to deal with a massive migrant camp that’s sprung up underneath the international bridge.
The move marked a black eye for Biden administration officials, who just a day before had disputed Gov. Greg Abbott’s claim that Customs and Border Protection had proposed shutting the crossing down. The closure also served as an admission that the situation in the migrant camp has grown out of control.
CBP said border traffic is being sent to an hour southeast of Del Rio, to the port of entry at Eagle Pass.
“This temporary closure and shift is necessary in order for CBP to respond to urgent safety and security needs presented by an influx of migrants into Del Rio and is effective immediately,” the agency said in a statement. “It will advance and protect national interests and help ensure the safety of the traveling public, commercial traffic, and CBP employees and facilities.”
The camp is a serious test of the country’s southern border, with about 10,000 migrants — mostly Haitian — having taken over a beachhead on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande.
They have yet to be arrested by Border Patrol agents, because there are simply too many of them. Agents are handing out tickets to let the migrants known when it’s their turn to be formally apprehended and processed.
The migrants are coming because Mexico has said it won’t accept Haitians being returned across the border, and the Biden administration has dismantled much of the Trump enforcement framework, leaving the U.S. government little option but to catch and release the migrants.
The situation had become an embarrassment for the administration, fueled by overhead photos, captured by drone, of the mass of migrants. The administration then issued a ban on drones, sparking outcries of a coverup.
Mr. Abbott said Thursday that he thought he’d reached a deal with Homeland Security to shut the port of entry, and had begun to deploy state resources to that end. But he said CBP changed its mind six hours later.
CBP, in its statement Friday, didn’t address the back-and-forth.