Two US officials have said many Haitian migrants camped in a Texas border town are now being allowed into the country.
The comments, first reported by The Associated Press, oppose recent statements from US President Joe Biden's administration, which has said that the thousands in the camp face immediate expulsion.
US authorities had been expected to remove many of the 12,000 migrants in Del Rio, Texas, after they crossed from Ciudad Acuna in Mexico.
Many have been released with notices to appear at an immigration office within 60 days, an outcome that requires less processing time from US border patrol agents than ordering an appearance in immigration court and points to the speed at which authorities are moving, the official said.
The US Homeland Security Department has been busing Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border, and this week added flights to Tucson, Arizona, the official said.
The migrants are processed by the border patrol at those locations, which indicates a pathway to citizenship or at least temporary status.
A second US official, also with direct knowledge and speaking on the condition of anonymity, said large numbers of Haitians were being processed under immigration laws and not being placed on expulsion flights to Haiti that started on Sunday.
The administration's decision comes as a relief to many Haitians hoping to relocate permanently to the US. It is unclear what the criteria is for those who are released in the US and those who are flown to Haiti, but two US officials said single adults were the priority for expulsion flights, The Associated Press reported.
The administration has faced widespread bipartisan condemnation for its handling of the migrant crisis. Republicans argue the administration's policies have led Haitians to believe they would be granted asylum, while Democrats expressed outrage over footage of border patrol agents on horseback harassing migrants.
The photos and video showed a border patrol agent using his long leather reins to lash at Haitian migrants along the border, prompting an investigation by the US Department of Homeland Security.
“Any mistreatment or abuse of a migrant is unacceptable,” Mr Mayorkas said in an interview with CNN. “The pictures that I’ve observed troubled me profoundly.”
US Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday said that she fully supports the investigation.
“Human beings should never be treated that way and I am deeply troubled by it,” Ms Harris said.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had said that the US would “have no choice” but to expel the migrants camped out in Del Rio.
“If you come to the US illegally, you will be returned,” Mr Mayorkas said at a news conference on Monday. “Your journey will not succeed.”