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US Democrats lash out at Biden administration over handling of Haitian migrants

02:45  23 september  2021
02:45  23 september  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

Children a big part of migration through perilous Darien Gap

  Children a big part of migration through perilous Darien Gap NECOCLI, Colombia (AP) — Every day, at least 500 migrants from around the world sail out of Necocli, a small town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, across the Gulf of Uraba to the village of Acandi, to start a week-long trek through the jungle that takes them into Panama — the next stop on the long road to the United States. About one quarter of them are children, according to Panamanian officials, and often still in arms. While trekking throughAbout one quarter of them are children, according to Panamanian officials, and often still in arms.

Even as the Biden administration makes progress toward dispersing the large group of mostly Haitian nationals gathered in Del Rio, Texas, government officials are facing internal divisions over how the migrants have been treated.

"As we speak out against the cruel, the inhumane, and the flat out racist treatment of our Haitian brothers and sisters at the southern border we cannot and we must not look away in this moment," Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley said Wednesday.

MORE: Biden admin missed red flags before Haitian migrant surge

Joined by a growing chorus of Democratic leaders in Congress, Pressley was referring to the striking images of Border Patrol agents on horseback confronting migrants and snapping their reins aggressively.

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Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande river to get food and water in Mexico, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico on Sept. 22, 2021. © Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande river to get food and water in Mexico, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico on Sept. 22, 2021.

Some Democrats are also calling on the Biden administration to immediately stop repatriating the Haitians back to their island nation, citing concerns about safety. As of Wednesday afternoon, officials report there were just over 5,547 migrants left in the encampment under an international bridge in the South Texas town of Del Rio, as the Biden administration scrambles to track, process and remove the group that at one point ballooned to more than 14,000 people.

  Democrats lash out at Biden administration over handling of Haitian migrants © Adrees Latif/Reuters

"Despite the Administration’s rapid deployment of personnel and resources in response to this crisis, much of the strategy to address the care of these vulnerable individuals is deeply concerning," Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson and Gregory W. Meeks said in a joint statement on Wednesday. "Specifically, we urge the Administration to halt repatriations to Haiti until the country recovers from these devastating crises."

US nears plan for widescale expulsions of Haitian migrants

  US nears plan for widescale expulsions of Haitian migrants DEL RIO, Texas (AP) — The Biden administration worked Saturday on plans to send many of the thousands of Haitian immigrants who have gathered in a Texas border city back to their Caribbean homeland, in a swift response to the huge influx of people who suddenly crossed the border from Mexico and congregated under and around a bridge. © Provided by Associated Press Haiti migrants waiting in Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña to get access to the United States, cross the Rio Grande toward Ciudad Acuña to get supplies, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.

The Department of Homeland Security has a limited number of options after agents encounter unauthorized migrants in the border region. Some are referred to ICE custody for detention or deportation while many are released to U.S. resettlement organizations and given a future date to report or appear in court.

a group of people standing around each other: A Haitian migrant is calmed by Haitian authorities after U.S. authorities flew migrants out of a Texas border city after crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico, at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Sept. 21, 2021. © Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters A Haitian migrant is calmed by Haitian authorities after U.S. authorities flew migrants out of a Texas border city after crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico, at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Sept. 21, 2021.

DHS extended temporary protections for Haitian nationals over the summer. But it only moved the deadline to apply to July 29. That means those who have arrived more recently do not qualify for the Temporary Protected Status designation even if they fled Haiti before the deadline, and thay are subject to removal under what's called Title 42.

Haitian deportees start over in country they don’t recognize

  Haitian deportees start over in country they don’t recognize PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Claile Bazile doesn’t know where she and her 2-year-old son will stay once they leave the hotel where officials temporarily set aside rooms for some of the hundreds of people streaming into Haiti after being expelled from the U.S. in the past couple of days. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Haiti last month and killed more than 2,200 people also destroyed her family’s home. “They’re out on theThe 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Haiti last month and killed more than 2,200 people also destroyed her family’s home.

"We have looked at the country conditions and made a determination that in fact we can return individuals who've arrived," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

DHS provided a statement to ABC News Wednesday evening saying removal flights from Texas to Haiti will continue, noting that more than 1,000 migrants have already been flown back.

MORE: Migrant surge continues to test authorities in south Texas

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has rapidly expelled hundreds of thousands of migrants from the U.S. under a decades-old part of the public health code known as Title 42. These expulsions have gravely concerned immigrant advocates who say the process cuts off access to the humanitarian protections some migrants are due.

Immigration officials have cited the protocols as a necessary tool in managing the migration challenges, but resources on the border have remained strained and agents have been pushed to their limits in an attempt to manage the influx in Del Rio.

a group of people standing outside of a building: Migrants, many from Haiti, wait to board a bus to Houston at a humanitarian center after they were released from United States Border Patrol upon crossing the Rio Grande and turning themselves in seeking asylum, Sept. 22, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. © Julio Cortez/AP Migrants, many from Haiti, wait to board a bus to Houston at a humanitarian center after they were released from United States Border Patrol upon crossing the Rio Grande and turning themselves in seeking asylum, Sept. 22, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.

At the same time, images of the tactics used by Border Patrol agents on horseback have stirred outrage from Democrats, with some drawing connections to extremist views.

How did so many Haitian immigrants end up at the southern US border?

  How did so many Haitian immigrants end up at the southern US border? Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said Sunday 3,300 migrants have been removed from the Del Rio Camp either to planes or detention centers since Friday.But how did these Haitian migrants make their way to Texas instead of entering from Florida — a state that's closer to the Caribbean nation?

"Congress must do the work of investigating and ensuring accountability of the egregious and white supremacist behavior of border patrol agents in Del Rio Texas," Pressley said at the Wednesday press conference.

Mayorkas addressed the images of the horse mounted patrol at the beginning of Wednesday’s House Homeland Security Committee hearing and reiterated that the agents in question won't be interacting with migrants while the agency investigates.

"The facts will drive the actions that we take," Mayorkas said. "We ourselves will pull no punches, and we need to conduct this investigation thoroughly, but very quickly."

He said he expects the investigation to wrap up "in days and not weeks."

Mayorkas was pressed again Wednesday about providing data that explains what has happened to migrants after they've been arrested or detained by border officials. When asked repeatedly by Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida, he declined to provide specifics or estimations, citing concerns over accuracy.

"Congressman, I want to be precise in my communication of data to the United States Congress and to you specifically having posed the question," Mayorkas said.

MORE: Biden admin outlines response to surge of Haitian migrants at border

White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki was also questioned Wednesday on the lack of information coming out of DHS about where the Haitian nationals are ending up, including how many have been released into the U.S.

'They shouldn't be here': Texas border town reckons with Haitian influx

  'They shouldn't be here': Texas border town reckons with Haitian influx U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti Daniel Foote resigned with a scathing letter criticizing the treatment of Haitian migrants and deportations from a Texas border camp.The border bridge closed Sept. 17, after U.S. Customs and Border Protection was overwhelmed by the arrival of thousands of Haitian migrants. Each day, Dehoyos loses about $1,000.

"I certainly understand why you're asking and understand why people have been asking Secretary Mayorkas," Psaki said. "Those are numbers that are -- the secretary -- the Department of Homeland Security would have the most up-to-date numbers."

"But why is it so hard to keep track of a simple number like that?" asked ABC News White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega. "Why can't you give it? Why can't he give it? It’s been two days now he's been asked that."

"I'm certain they will provide it. It's an absolutely fair question to ask, and I'm certain he just wanted to have the most up-to-date numbers to provide," Psaki responded.

Official vehicles line up along the bank of the Rio Grande near an encampment of migrants, many from Haiti, near the Del Rio International Bridge, Sept. 21, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. © Julio Cortez/AP Official vehicles line up along the bank of the Rio Grande near an encampment of migrants, many from Haiti, near the Del Rio International Bridge, Sept. 21, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke to Mayorkas on Tuesday, expressing her concerns about the treatment of migrants at the hands of agents for Border Patrol, a subdivision of the Department of Homeland Security.

Mayorkas promised her an update on the investigation into the incident involving Border Patrol agents on horseback and said the department is taking its obligations to provide humanitarian support seriously, according to a readout of the conversation from the vice president's office.

ABC News’ Kenneth Moton, Luke Barr, Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.

The US owes a debt to Haiti. Why experts say of their shared history led to a migrant crisis on the border .
The Biden administration faces backlash for deporting Haitian migrants. Experts say foreign interference has always stunted the country's progress.Instead of providing shelter and refuge for the migrants, the US continued to deport Haitians to Port-au-Prince after years of being targeted by imperialism and xenophobia, and what experts say as history repeating itself.

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