Sunday, September 19, 2021

President Biden in a Pickle With Haitian Migrants in Texas


A group of Haitian migrants on the U.S./Mexico border generated a Saturday response from the Department of Homeland Security:

"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is immediately implementing a new, comprehensive strategy to address the increase in migrant encounters in the Del Rio sector of South Texas.  It has six key components.

First, within the next 24-48 hours, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will have surged 400 agents and officers to the Del Rio sector to improve control of the area.  If additional staff is needed, more will be sent. The Del Rio Port of Entry has temporarily closed, and traffic is being re-routed from Del Rio to Eagle Pass to more effectively manage resources and ensure uninterrupted flow of trade and travel.

Second, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) is coordinating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard to move individuals from Del Rio to other processing locations, including approximately 2,000 yesterday, in order to ensure that irregular migrants are swiftly taken into custody, processed, and removed from the United States consistent with our laws and policy. 

Third, DHS will secure additional transportation to accelerate the pace and increase the capacity of removal flights to Haiti and other destinations in the hemisphere within the next 72 hours.

Fourth, the Administration is working with source and transit countries in the region to accept individuals who previously resided in those countries. 

Fifth, DHS is undertaking urgent humanitarian actions with other relevant federal, state, and local partners to reduce crowding and improve conditions for migrants on U.S. soil.  DHS has already taken a number of steps to ensure the safety and security of individuals as they await processing, including having Border Patrol emergency medical technicians on hand and providing water, towels, and portable toilets.

Finally, the White House has directed appropriate U.S. agencies to work with the Haitian and other regional governments to provide assistance and support to returnees. 

The majority of migrants continue to be expelled under CDC’s Title 42 authority.  Those who cannot be expelled under Title 42 and do not have a legal basis to remain will be placed in expedited removal proceedings.  DHS is conducting regular expulsion and removal flights to Haiti, Mexico, Ecuador, and Northern Triangle countries.

Beyond the six steps outlined above, the Biden Administration has reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey.  Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion.  Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and welfare of border communities and to the lives of migrants themselves, and should not be attempted." (bold added).

Juan A. Lozano, Eric Gay, and Elliot Spagat for the Associated Press report that the "Haitian migrants . . . . said they will not be deterred by U.S. plans to speedily send them back, as thousands of people remained encamped on the Texas border Saturday after crossing from Mexico. . . . Scores of people waded back and forth across the Rio Grande on Saturday afternoon, re-entering Mexico to purchase water, food and diapers in Ciudad Acuña before returning to the Texas encampment under and near a bridge in the border city of Del Rio."

Rafael Bernal for the Hill writes that "[t]he growing group of Haitians massing under a bridge in Texas . . . is worsening President Biden’s political headache over immigration."  Texas Republicans have blamed the president for the rise in Haitian migration.

The Hill reported that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plane carrying 86 Haitians landed earlier this week in Haiti, which this summer saw its president assassinated and suffered a devastating earthquake.  Eight further ICE flights scheduled to go to Haiti next week, according to a report by NBC News.

On September 17, Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) led 56 House Democrats in a letter demanding the administration suspend all expulsion and deportation flights to Haiti.

“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,” said Pressley.

Bernal writes that "[t]he twin lines of attack from liberals upset about the deportations and Republicans calling for tougher measures have seemingly put Biden between a rock and a hard place at a time when regional migration flows have become unpredictable."




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