In Depth

Brutality at the border: the Haitian refugee crisis explained

Biden’s handling of recent surge of Haitian migrants ‘indefensible’ - whatever your views on border policy, said USA Today

The Democrats are supposed to be the pro-immigrant party, said Nathalie Baptiste in Mother Jones. And Joe Biden is supposed to be the opposite of Donald Trump. You wouldn’t guess it, though, from the brutal way the administration has handled a recent surge of Haitian migrants.

After about 14,000 of them crossed the US-Mexico border and amassed under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, officials swiftly set about deporting them to Haiti, without the opportunity for asylum appeals or hearings. This despite the fact that many of the migrants have few ties to Haiti, having fled it years ago for South America. Worse still, images emerged of department of homeland security agents riding horses and “using whips” to corral the migrants – which were horribly reminiscent “of white men on slave-catching patrols”.

Those scenes were “indefensible”, whatever your views on border policy, said USA Today. There’s no context in which it’s appropriate for a government agent to be “riding down a defenceless, frightened black man” whose only crime was to seek refuge here.

Liberal pundits have latched on to this detail, said National Review. But the agents didn’t whip anyone. They don’t even carry whips. They just twirled their reins, and used their horses to block people – a standard crowd-control measure.

Yes, some migrants have been deported, but many more have been let into the US. One official told the Associated Press that Haitian migrants had been admitted on a “very, very large scale”. They are issued with 60-day notices to appear at an immigration office, which most of them obviously ignore.

The administration’s insistence that the southern border is closed is disingenuous, said the New York Post. The flow of migrants across it is actually “at a 21-year high”, precisely because people realise Biden isn’t serious about stopping people. When the Trump administration received intelligence about caravans of migrants forming, it moved quickly to stop them, recognising that when people get through the border, word quickly spreads to other would-be migrants.

Trump’s team also pressured Mexico to cooperate in discouraging migrants. Biden took that pressure off. “Every bit as much as the disastrous Afghan pull-out, this is a crisis Team Biden created. And, yet again, its only ‘solution’ is to play dumb and outright lie about how badly it’s continuing to bungle.”

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