An army veteran who organizes annual cleanups of American cities spoke of his shock at the appalling conditions along the US-Mexico border as thousands of mostly Haitian migrants gathered in the town of Del Rio.
John Rourke, founder of the Great American Clean-Up, said he and his team were surprised by the scenes.
Del Rio has seen a surge in migrant numbers, with the city of 35,000 seeing an estimated 14,000 mostly Haitian migrants reach their district this weekend.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, was in town on Monday, but Rourke told Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show that more needed to be done.
“Let me tell you what I saw,” Rourke said.
John Rourke shared the disturbing scenes he saw in Del Rio, Texas on Wednesday night
A makeshift migrant camp is seen on Wednesday in Del Rio, Texas
Migrants, many from Haiti, are seen in an encampment along the Del Rio International Bridge
The migrants waded back and forth between Texas and Mexico, across the Rio Grande
A young child clings to his father as he crosses the river to the United States
“I saw people washing babies in the Rio Grande.
“I saw ladies breastfeeding babies, sleeping in the mud, 107 degrees outside, red ants everywhere, real coyotes — the four-legged ones walking around.
‘It’s like Naked And Afraid: The Southern Border Edition, out there.
‘People are literally cutting down trees and putting up shelters and tipis and sleeping under them.’
He said he and his colleagues have picked up “thousands of pounds of garbage along the southern border.”
Photos of the harrowing scenes have sparked widespread outrage.
Women and young children lie on the camp ground among plastic bottles, empty Oreo packets and food containers
A young girl stands in the place she currently calls home in a makeshift camp under the Del Rio Bridge in Texas
A Haitian passport was found Tuesday evening in a pile of garbage near the international bridge between Mexico and the US
Desperate migrants, mostly families with young children, are forced to sleep on the dirty ground or – if they are lucky – on cardboard boxes that have been folded out flat.
Many of the 8,600 that remain have resorted to making makeshift tents with discarded clothing and tree branches to provide at least some shelter from the elements.
The heat was punishable last week with temperatures rising into the high 90s. Families have resorted to bathing in the dirty waters of the Rio Grande River to cool off.
The misery is more reminiscent of a developing country than the land of the American dream, where thousands of migrants have fled in hopes of seeking asylum and building a better life.
A migrant walks past a pile of trash at the camp under the Del Rio Bridge in Texas on the US-Mexico border Tuesday night.
An aerial view shows the huge piles of rubbish that lie a stone’s throw from where young children sleep
Empty water bottles, food containers and other rubbish lie scattered as mounds of rubbish tower high in the sky.
An aerial view shows the huge piles of garbage from above, which can be seen just steps from the places young children call home.
In another image, women and young children lie between plastic bottles and an empty Oreo package, on the ground covered with the remains of trees used to create the shelters.
HAITAN MIGRANT CRISIS IN FIGURES:
Number of migrants in Del Rio at peak of crisis: 14,600
Number of migrants per Tuesday evening: 8,600
Number deported to Haiti Sunday: 327
Number turned off on Monday: 233
Number deported Tuesday: 523
Total deported since flights started Sunday: 1.083
Number of deportation flights scheduled for Wednesday: 7
Another photo shows a Haitian passport in a pile of trash including empty aluminum cans, an old shoe and discarded clothing.
Rourke said he and his team rescued struggling migrants from the river as soon as he arrived.
“We got three people out of the river in 15 minutes,” he told Carlson.
“We went from cleaning up trash to getting people out of the river from Venezuela.”
He continued, “They come and go back and forth from Mexico, just like me or you crossing the street. There is no one to stop them. We’ve talked to a lot of them.
“About 85 percent of the people under that bridge were Haitian. Most of them came to South Florida.
“A lot of them go to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando.”
The cramped conditions have also fueled fears of a COVID-19 outbreak – especially given that the migrants crossing the border do not need to be vaccinated before entering the US.
Rourke said he asked them about their vaccination status, and many said they didn’t want to take it.
“I asked them about COVID-19,” he said.
‘I was there. I asked them whether or not they had been vaccinated, and if there was a vaccine available, would you take it.
‘I said emphatically no, they wouldn’t take it.
“Many of them cited religious beliefs as the reason they wouldn’t accept it.”
And he said the migrants told him they were coming because Joe Biden made them feel more welcome than Donald Trump.
“They come here because where they come from is so poor and they want the opportunity – they feel like this is the opportunity, now that the Biden administration is here, to leave the country they’ve lived in, Central America, places like Chile, come here now.
“And they told me to my face that the reason they’re here is because Joe Biden allows us to come here.
“He is a very humble man, he has a big heart, he loves the Haitian people and we love him.
“It was almost the biggest Biden rally I’ve ever been to. Everyone who was there talked about Joe Biden. They love him.’
Thousands are forced to sleep on bare ground or on carpets laid among the rubble of trees cut down for shelter
Shocking images have surfaced of the filthy and smelly migrant camp under the Del Rio Bridge in Texas, which is currently home to thousands of Haitian migrants.
Nearly 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants camped under the bridge over the weekend after crossing the US from Mexico.
Many have fled Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and have lived in South American countries, including Brazil and Chile.
But since these countries have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, many Haitians have traveled through South America and Mexico seeking asylum in the US.
Biden was blamed after a proclamation in May that Haitians in the US would not be expelled for 18 months due to instability in their home countries, and could request documentation to work in the US.
That only applied to Haitians who were already in the US at the time, but thousands have since made the trip to the border to take advantage of it.
Most of them live in Chile and Brazil and moved there after the devastating earthquake of 2010 that killed 200,000 people.
Border police officers, struggling to process the large numbers of people quickly enough, set up the makeshift camp under the bridge as a temporary shelter.
Last week, concerns arose that there would not be enough food, water and basic services to supply the thousands of migrants living at the site.