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A Fleet of Prison Buses Is Being Deployed to Move Haitian Migrants

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"We don't do humanitarian stuff," said one Bureau of Prisons staffer after at least 100 "bus crew" officers were quietly sent to the border.
Migrants exit a Border Patrol bus and prepare to be received by the Val Verde Humanitarian Coalition after crossing the Rio Grande on September 22, 2021 in Del Rio, Texas. Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images.

First it was Border Patrol agents mounted on horseback. Now it's prison buses.

The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has quietly dispatched "bus crews" from around the country to Del Rio, Texas, to help transport thousands of Haitian migrants who are camped underneath a bridge along the border, VICE News has learned, after speaking with multiple BOP employees who allege the agency has intentionally tried to avoid leaving a paper trail.

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A BOP spokesperson confirmed that the agency "sent approximately 100 staff to provide transportation assistance." The agency declined to offer further details in response to questions about the scope and purpose of the operation, how the move would affect already short-staffed prisons, and whether the officers are appropriately trained for such a mission.

The BOP staffers who spoke out said their colleagues were ordered to report for duty at the border on short notice and warned that the assignments could last anywhere from two weeks to two months. The staffers involved work on "bus crews," which typically entails shipping people who've been charged with or convicted of federal crimes between jails and prisons.

Andy Kline, the staff union president at the U.S. penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, said eight officers from two bus crews at his institution were among those sent to Del Rio. Kline said BOP buses are equipped with metal cages to lock in prisoners, and questioned whether the Haitians would be subjected to the same security measures.

"We don't do humanitarian stuff," Kline said. "Is Homeland Security telling them you can't secure them in the cages? I'm certain they can't put 'em in handcuffs. That's how we normally transport inmates, in handcuffs and leg irons, and the cage doors are locked to…
Keegan Hamilton
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