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The restrictions, among the most severe in U.S. history, kept families apart, including spouses who have not been able to hug in months, grandparents whose grandchildren doubled in age since they last saw them, and uncles and aunts who have not met nieces and nephews who are now toddlers.

As of Thursday, about 4,000 migrants remained under the bridge between Del Rio and Mexico, Department of Homeland Security officials said. The number peaked sharply on Saturday, as migrants driven by confusion over the Biden administration's policies and misinformation on social media converged at the crossing. Food, shelter and medical care were being provided to those who need it officials said.

The U.S. plans to speed up its efforts to expel Haitian migrants on flights to their Caribbean homeland, officials said Saturday as agents poured into a Texas border city where thousands of Haitians have gathered after suddenly crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.

Haitians crossed the Rio Grande freely and in a steady stream, going back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico through knee-deep water with some parents carrying small children on their shoulders. Unable to buy supplies in the U.S., they returned briefly to Mexico for food and cardboard to settle, temporarily at least, under or near the bridge in Del Rio, a city of 35,000 that has been severely strained by migrant flows in recent months.

Families arriving at the U.S. border with Mexico will have their cases fast-tracked in immigration court, the Biden administration said Friday, less than two weeks after it said it was easing pandemic-related restrictions on seeking asylum.