DEL RIO, Texas — Mayor Bruno Lozano told reporters Thursday that a separate economy has developed under the border bridge where migrants and likely citizens of Mexico are carrying goods into the camp thanks to regular river crossings to and from Ciudad Acuna. The growing population of migrants and the strain on resources could mean migrants will spend weeks in the camp before transferring to an indoor detention facility, according to the mayor.
The mayor says the volume of migrants is overwhelming the Border Patrol, making it impossible to control the back-and-forth crossings at the Rio Grande. The mayor says the lack of vigilance concerning the unfettered crossings is a cause for worry.
The encampment, which reached a population of more than 12,000 mostly Haitian migrants, sits directly under the Del Rio International Bridge. The mayor, as he points to the bridge, says he worries about the vulnerable population of the camp and the risk to security of the infrastructure. Lozano speaks to the uncertainty about the migrants detained saying, “we have a large population here and we don’t know necessarily who they are yet.”
The mayor was joined at the press conference Thursday by Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez, who also expressed worry about the overwhelming numbers. The sheriff says local authorities are already investigating an assault among the migrants that occurred earlier in the day.
The resources in the small town of less than 35,000 residents are extremely limited. Del Rio has one hospital and there are far fewer Border Patrol agents compared to other sectors across the southwest border.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.