DEL RIO, Texas (NewsNation Now) — A camp where almost 15,000 migrants waited along the Texas border last week put Del Rio on the map, but locals say their problems started months ago.
A lot of residents tell NewsNationNow.com that they blame the Biden administration’s immigration policies for taking away their livelihood. Some, in hardest-hit industries like tourism, are now wondering how much longer they can hold on.
Ray Hanselman has lived and worked on the border his entire life. He’s one of Del Rio’s leading hunting and fishing guides.
He had one of his best years during the pandemic because many people wanted to be outside. Now, tourism is taking a hit.
Hanselman says eight months of relaxed immigration policies under the Biden administration has overwhelmed sleepy border towns like his with migrants, law enforcement and negative press.
Then, the Haitian migrants swarmed the international bridge.
“I mean, would you want to go somewhere where there were 20,000 military age people standing, wanting to cross the border? Yeah it wasn’t a good situation,” Hanselman said.
He says many clients, who no longer view the border as a safe place for vacation and leisure, are canceling.
His frustration with the White House is mounting.
“We might be just barely in the United States but we’re in the United States as much as New York or L.A. or any of those others. so we deserve as much protection from our federal government as anybody,” Hanselman said.
Blanca Larson with Del Rio’s Chamber of Commerce says open borders and COVID-19 have been unkind.
“We lost—I think we’re down 20% in our lake visitations,” Larson said.
She said the bridge closure and ban on nonessential travel added to the city’s financial strain.
“It’s like one community,” Larson said. “We can’t function without the other. Ciudad Acuna depends on Del Rio and Del Rio depends on Ciudad Acuna.”
“As a family we were talking about bailing out,” Hanselman said. “Let’s move. This is too much. We can’t handle it. Who knows what will happen next. And then the town started rallying around the law enforcement and so, that made us change our mind. We’re gonna stick it out, we’re gonna stay here.”
Hanselman is now calling on Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to come see the problem