Thousands of Haitian migrants have assembled under and around a bridge in a small Texas border town, presenting the Biden administration with a fresh and immediate challenge as it tries to manage large numbers of asylum-seekers who have been reaching U.S. soil.
Images showed Haitians crossing the Rio Grande in huge groups and assembling under a bridge in Del Rio, a city of 35,000 that has been severely strained by migrant flows in recent months. Estimates for the group were as high as 8,000 to 10,000.
Late Thursday night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted a video showing thousands of illegal aliens under the bridge in Del Rio with the senator writing, "The U.S. Border Patrol is overcapacity."
"10,503 illegal aliens are under this bridge tonight because Joe Biden made a political decision to cancel deportation flights to Haiti," Cruz wrote. "The Border Patrol is overcapacity. It's indefensible, it's inhuman, and it was entirely caused by BideThousands of Haitian migrants have assembled under and around a bridge in a small Texas border town, presenting the Biden administration with a fresh and immediate challenge as it tries to manage large numbers of asylum-seekers who have been reaching U.S. soil.n & Harris. #BidenBorderCrisis"
10,503 illegal aliens are under this bridge tonight because Joe Biden made a political decision to cancel deportation flights to Haiti.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 17, 2021
In a second tweet, Cruz appeared in a two-minute-long video standing beside the bridge with the migrants behind him.
"I'm here in Del Rio, Texas, Sept. 16. I'm underneath the bridge," the Texas senator said. "Behind me... 10,503 people. This is a crisis that is unfolding. It's a manmade crisis. Just over a week ago, there were fewer than 1,000 people here under the bridge, averaging between 700 and 1,000."
"Then on Sept. 8, the Biden administration made a decision to cancel deportation flights back to Haiti," he continued. "A vast majority of these illegal immigrants crossing into Del Rio are from Haiti. When they made that decision eight days ago, 700 to 1,000 people here discovered they could stay. They pulled out their cellphones and they called the press. They called their families. And eight days later, 700 people became 10,503."
"This is a disaster," Cruz said. "And it is a manmade disaster. It is the result of political decisions and Joe Biden could end this tomorrow by simply following the law and reinstate the deportation flights back. When you have open borders, this is what you get."
"Let me say to the heroes... the men and women of the Border Patrol, who are risking their lives trying to do a job that their political superiors won't let them do – we appreciate your courage," he said. "We appreciate your service.
Motioning behind him, Cruz remarked, "This is wrong. This is not humane. This is not compassionate. This is lawless and it is inviting suffering in detail."
I am on the ground in Del Rio, Texas tonight. As of this moment, there are 10,503 illegal aliens under the Del Rio International Bridge.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 17, 2021
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration placed a two-week restriction along the Del Rio bridge, preventing news outlets from flying drones to report on the crisis.
Bill Melugin, the national correspondent for Fox News, tweeted about the FAA decision.
"NEW: We've learned that the FAA just implemented a two-week TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) over the international bridge in Del Rio, TX, meaning we can no longer fly our FOX drone over it to show images of the thousands of migrants," he wrote. "FAA says "special security reason."
NEW: We've learned that the FAA just implemented a two week TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) over the international bridge in Del Rio, TX, meaning we can no longer fly our FOX drone over it to show images of the thousands of migrants. FAA says "special security reason". pic.twitter.com/aJrjAPO2Pz
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) September 17, 2021
Melugin noted that the network has been using drones for months to tell the story and there has never been a problem.
"The Border Patrol requested the temporary flight restriction due to drones interfering with law enforcement flights on the border," the FAA said in a statement to Fox on Thursday evening. "As with any temporary flight restriction, media is able to call the FAA to make requests to operate in the area."
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted, "What a coincidence. The FAA better be ready to explain to Congress why they're suddenly blocking the media from covering Biden's border crisis."
Late Thursday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the Biden administration reversed their decision to close ports of entry after a massive influx of migrants arrived at the Texas border.
"Six hours after U.S. Customs and Border Patrol requested help from Texas to close ports of entry and secure the border, the Biden administration has now flip-flopped to a different strategy that abandons border security and instead makes it easier for people to cross illegally and for cartels to exploit the border," Abbot said in a statement. "The Biden administration is in complete disarray and is handling the border crisis as badly as the evacuation from Afghanistan. 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."
Then a few hours later, Abbott tweeted that Texas "agreed to a contract with companies to oversee construction of the border wall."
"They will quickly work to begin building the wall. Tomorrow I sign a law that increases border security funding to $3 billion. We're trying to fix Biden's failure," he added.
Today Texas agreed to a contract with companies to oversee construction of the border wall
They will quickly work to begin building the wall
Tomorrow I sign a law that increases border security funding to $3 billion
We're trying to fix Biden's failurehttps://t.co/Ug0GoxGoyj
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) September 17, 2021
KPRC-TV in Houston reports the Texas Facilities Commission voted to approve the contract, worth up to $11 million, for Michael Baker International Inc. and Huitt-Zollars to manage budgets, identify state land for wall construction and find "willing private landowners to facilitate construction," according to the request for proposal.