Border patrol's treatment of Haitian migrants worsens border situation
While the Border Patrol is overloaded, Haitians continue to arrive amid false promises and desperation.
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The situation at the Del Rio Bridge in Texas worsens everyday with the arrival of more Haitians desperately seeking refuge in the United States.
When the crossing point was closed last week, there were supposedly at least 6,000 immigrants, mostly from Haiti, under the Del Rio bridge. The week began with more than 10,000 people in place, border patrol overwhelmed, massive deportations and Republican governors putting pressure on the Biden Administration to tighten immigration restrictions.
Border patrol officers have taken extreme measures to try to deter people at the site and images emerged of them on horseback beating migrants trying to reach the international bridge, causing a strong reaction from activists and politicians on social media.
"Absolutely unacceptable. No matter how challenging the situation in Del Rio is right now, nothing justifies violence against migrants attempting to seek asylum in our country," wrote Rep. Veronica Escobar on her Twitter account.
Absolutely unacceptable.— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) September 20, 2021
No matter how challenging the situation in Del Rio is right now, nothing justifies violence against migrants attempting to seek asylum in our country.
: @PaulRatje pic.twitter.com/vjdIe6PkzS
For his part, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said during his visit to the bridge that “we are very concerned the Haitians who are taking this irregular migration path are receiving false information that the border is open or that temporary protected status is available."
The temporary protection status is valid for Haitians who arrived in the country before July 29, and despite Biden announcing the increase of refugee capacity to 125,000, it would not protect Haitians or the thousands of Afghans who have arrived in recent weeks fleeing the Taliban because the quota begins counting on Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year begins. Neither Haitians nor Afghans are officially classified as refugees.
Amid the situation, the administration began deporting immigrants in the area back to their countries, causing various reactions, taking into account the difficult situation of the country after the earthquake of Aug. 14, where at least 2,000 people died, and the political and social crisis unleashed by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse a few months ago.
Many also do not come directly from Haiti, but left their country years ago and come after a long journey from South America, where they were trapped by the closure of the borders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the south of the continent, the Haitian diaspora grew considerably after 2010, when an earthquake destroyed the country.
Thousands of people arrived in countries such as Chile, either to settle in precarious conditions or as part of a route along the Pacific to the north that passes through the Darien jungle in Colombia — a point that has become critical for those who want to illegally reach the United States from South America, and even Africa.
A group of 50 Democratic senators sent a letter to Biden criticizing the deportations.
Representative Ayanna Presley, one of the signers, said in a statement that “the Biden administration cannot claim it is doing everything it can to support the Haitian community while continuing to unjustly deport Haitians as the island weathers its worst political, public health and economic crises yet."
On the other side, the 26 Republican governors requested a meeting with the president to review the situation at the border.
"The months-long surge in illegal crossings has instigated an international humanitarian crisis, spurred a spike in international criminal activity, and opened the floodgates to human traffickers and drug smugglers endangering public health and safety in our states," the Republican Governors Association letter states, "a crisis that began at our southern border now extends beyond to every state and requires immediate action before the situation worsens."