Guest Editorial: Haitian migrants deserve better treatment

The Biden administration should be condemned for its handling of the influx of Haitian migrants at the U.S. southern border.

The administration deserves strong rebuke after images of U.S. Border patrol agents on horseback using aggressive tactics went viral last week.

Haitian migrants are being boarded on buses after being processed and released after spending time at a makeshift camp near the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas. The U.S. is flying Haitians camped at the Texas border town back to their homeland and trying to block others from crossing the border from Mexico.

The nation watched in horror a video of agents maneuvering their horses to forcibly block migrants attempting to cross the border.

 

Congressional Democrats are right to call on the Biden administration to end its use of a pandemic-era authority to deport migrants without giving them an opportunity to seek asylum in the United States.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson is right to demand a meeting with Biden to discuss the situation and called the treatment of the Haitian migrants “utterly sickening.”

Videos and photos taken in Del Rio are deeply disturbing. They show Border Patrol agents confronting Haitians in an overly aggressive manner. One agent is seen on horseback twirling his long leather reins in a menacing way at the Haitian migrants.

Border Patrol agents are seen forcibly blocking and moving migrants, almost seeming to herd them. In at least one instance, they were heard taunting the migrants.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz sought to downplay the incidents, telling the reporters that the agents were working in a difficult and chaotic environment. But that’s no excuse for the agents’ harsh mistreatment of Haitian migrants.

Republicans say the Biden administration policies led Haitians to believe they would get asylum. There is no evidence for the GOP assertions.

The migrant crisis has been in the making for years.

Haitians have been migrating to the U.S. in large numbers from South America for several years, many having left their Caribbean nation after a devastating 2010 earthquake. Haiti also is struggling to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in mid-August.

On Thursday, the Biden administration’s special envoy to Haiti resigned, protesting “inhumane” large-scale expulsions of Haitian migrants to their homeland wracked by civil strife and natural disaster.

Daniel Foote wrote Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he was stepping down immediately “with deep disappointment and apologies to those seeking crucial changes.”

“I will not be associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs to daily life,” he wrote. “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my policy recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own.”

Foote’s resignation and the outrage expressed by Democratic lawmakers and civil rights leaders should be a wake-up for the Biden administration to implement a better policy.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

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