The Biden administration’s weak approach to diplomacy and illegal immigration may have induced the Mexican government to release the Haitians who caused the crisis in Del Rio, Texas, according to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies.
Several Haitian migrants reported that the Mexican government in Tapachula—a city on Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala—abruptly released them on Sept. 12, supposedly in celebration of Mexican national independence, known as El Grito.
The Mexican government had been holding these Haitian migrants for months while they waited for temporary residency permits, but their number created a bottleneck and their applications were stalled.
CIS interviewed some Haitians who said that their release caught them off guard because the Mexican government previously had not allowed them to leave without their papers.
“The festivities going in Mexico opened up the opportunity for us to travel,” Baya, a Haitian migrant, said. “They said we were free to leave for three days. I went.”
Other Haitians did not reference a three-day leave period.
“The government allowed us to leave,” Kelson, a Haitian migrant, said. “We don’t know why, but a lot of the offices were going to be closing for the holiday.”
The Haitian migrants used the opportunity to catch hundreds of buses to Ciudad Acuña, a Mexican city across the river from Del Rio.
Todd Bensman, the Center’s senior national security fellow who spoke with the Haitians, said he suspects that the Mexican government used El Grito as cover to transfer its immigration crisis to the United States.
“CIS could find no public reporting of any official Mexico announcement or confirmation of these migrant accounts,” he said. “But if their accounts are true, Mexico’s decision presents a clear diplomatic affront to the Biden administration, transferring a significant threat management and humanitarian challenge to America, not to mention a potential political problem for the Biden administration.”
The Biden administration stopped using former President Donald Trump’s high-pressure methods, like threatening retaliatory tariffs, to curtail illegal immigration at the Southern border.
Instead, Biden offered the Mexican government foreign aid in exchange for using the nation’s military protect the United States from migrant caravans.
“The move hints at how Mexico’s leadership regards the Biden administration’s quid pro quo arrangements of aid for help with illegal immigration from Guatemala,” Bensman said. “Mexico can open the flood gates at any time.”