What many call a humanitarian crisis at America’s border with Mexico has become a full crisis of conscience for the U.S. department of homeland security.
For more than three weeks the border bridge connecting Del Rio Texas with Mexico has served as the only shelter for thousands of Haitian migrants, many having fled a country devastated by natural disasters and political turmoil, only to arrive to a hellish landscape with squalid conditions.
Thousands have already been deported back to Haiti under a policy imposed by Donald Trump, which appropriately uses the pandemic as a reason to deny them from crossing the border.
Asylum seekers are all taken for processing, but it isn’t deterring the flood of migrants who face an aggressive response from border agents, some on horseback using intimidation and even flogging to keep people off American soil.
DHS has referred the matter for internal investigation, an Kamala Harris, who is tasked with handling the immigration crisis is pushing back on critics who argue the White House is either doing too much or too little to help migrants.
According to Global News, many of these people fled Haiti years ago and have lived since then in South America, making them ineligible for asylum. Haitian immigrants already in America were granted protected status, but not those trying to cross now who under this pandemic protocol.
Over the next three days, the Department of Homeland Security says it is ramping up deportation flights for some of the thousands of Haitian migrants who have gathered under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas. But Haitian activists Guerline Jozef, the founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, explains that deportation back to an island where people are fleeing natural disaster and political unrest is not the answer.
Images of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing Haitian migrants along the Rio Grande are “horrific,” the White House says.
Calling it a “challenging and heartbreaking situation,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a stark warning: “If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life.”
“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” said a second Haitian man, who declined to give his name but said he crossed into Mexico Monday for food, leaving his wife and child in Del Rio. “The U.S. is deporting and now Mexico won’t just sit back and do nothing. We don’t know where to go.”
Mayorkas and other officials suggested that what many viewers took to be agents using whips was actually agents using their horses’ reins.
“But we are going to investigate the facts to ensure that the situation is as we understand it to be and if it’s anything different, we will respond accordingly,” he said, according to Texas Public Radio.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said the situation was complex and that the United States needed “to do a lot more” to support the basic needs of people in Haiti.
“I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it acceptable or appropriate,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the images at a nearly simultaneous briefing. She deemed the footage “horrific” and said the matter would be investigated.
While feigning shock about how the media covered this story – implying that they’d be more critical of Trump – is tempting, political games where you’re advocating for a stance you disagree with because of your own political alignment is a dangerous game. Overpopulation around the world is the number one threat to global stability, and we’re just seeing the tip of that iceberg in the form of these events.