Mexican police deploy at Haitian migrant camp

Ciudad Acuña (Mexico) (AFP) –


Tensions mounted Thursday among Haitian migrants camped out in a park near Mexico's border with the United States following the arrival of dozens of police officers at the site.

The operation came after Mexican migration authorities said the foreigners should return to wherever in the country they submitted their asylum applications to finish the process.

Those papers allow migrants to remain legally in Mexico and avoid deportation while waiting to cross over to the United States.

Around 50 police vehicles carrying dozens of officers arrived early Thursday in the vicinity of a park in Ciudad Acuna where migrants have been staying for about a week, AFP reporters observed.

"Are they going to deport us or kick us out of here?" asked one of the hundreds of migrants waiting nervously to see what would happen.

So far the migrants have not been evicted from the encampment.

The convoy stopped along the banks of the Rio Grande river, which hundreds of Haitians cross daily between the US and Mexican sides of the border for food and supplies.

"We have come to coordinate care for this population that is in a vulnerable situation. Respect for these people is guaranteed," National Migration Institute commissioner Francisco Garduno told reporters.

"The government of Mexico will provide air and land transportation to allow migrants to return to the states from which they left, to continue with their process or to support their safe return to their countries of origin," he said.

Tens of thousands of migrants, many of them Haitians previously living in South America, have arrived in recent weeks in Mexico hoping to enter the United States.

Instead they have found themselves stranded in Ciudad Acuna or the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, waiting for documents that would allow them to continue north.

Many have traveled overland from Chile and Brazil, which gave them refuge after the 2010 earthquake that left around 200,000 people dead in Haiti.

The US authorities have begun to repatriate Haitians by air from the Texas border city of Del Rio, prompting a warning from the United Nations that people with genuine asylum claims may be at risk.