Haitian migrants turned away from US entry


US Border Officers attempting to contain migrants crossing the Rio Grande (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

Over the past few weeks, Haitian migrants have arrived at the US border by the thousands. Lured by promises of easy travel into the United States, many families, some of which invested years into making the journey, found themselves halted at Del Rio, Texas. Here, the US launched, as quoted by the Associated Press, “a mass expulsion of Haitian migrants from Texas.” An example of this program in effect could be seen on Sunday, September 19th where more than 320 Haitians camped in the small Texan town were flown to Port-au-Prince in Haiti which, “signaled the beginning of what could be one of America’s swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades.”


As of the writing of this article, roughly 12,000 migrants reside by the border, with pictures depicting the migrants wading back and forth on the Rio Grande carrying blankets, clothing, diapers, toiletries, and other belongings in plastic bags. Unable to gain entry into the country, these migrants are being relocated by the US Border Officers so that they may be effectively deported back to Haiti. The process has been strenuous on the migrants as many are exhausted, dehydrated, and hungry. Some are in the unfortunate situation of being separated from their loved ones due to legislative disputes. In a more dramatic and controversial part of this exodus process, border officers have been photographed chasing and trampling migrants as some attempt to resist or flee the oncoming US border force. Daina Beth Solomon, a writer for Reuters, as well as anonymous Reuters witnesses, commented on how Border Officers appeared to be using horse reins as whips to threaten Haitian migrants in many of the photos. However, these claims have been contested by some officials and news sites.


Migrants sheltering under the Del Rio International Bridge (Reuters/Adrees Latif)

Photos of the events at the border sparked harsh criticisms aimed at the Biden Administration, which was still recovering from a harsh media cycle revolving around Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal. With that being said, the Administration seems to be focused on addressing the issues at hand in order to make the entire process as painless as possible. Anonymous US Officials spoke to the Associated Press on Friday that the US planned on conducting anywhere from two to eight flights a day starting from Sunday and that everyone was to be tested for COVID-19. Border Patrol Chief Raul L. Ortiz stated, “We are working around the clock to expeditiously move migrants out of the heat, elements, and from underneath this bridge to our processing facilities in order to quickly process and remove individuals from the United States with our laws and our policies.” The White House also directly condemned the images where border police appeared to be whipping Haitian Migrants stating that the actions were, “obviously horrific.”


Haitian Migrants arriving at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port au Prince, Haiti after being deported from the US. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

Then, there is the question of why this migration is happening in the first place. Migrant Fabricio Jean, a father of two, sheds some light on the issue and comments that, “In Haiti, there is no security. The country is in a political crisis.” Jean is referring to the assassination of Haiti’s president on July 7th as well as the political protests. With the ongoing violence in the island country, many Haitians have taken it upon themselves to get out of their situation. Joe Biden’s presidency indicated a more sympathetic immigration policy, that mobilized thousands of migrants to begin the journey north. For the most part, these claims were justified. In May, the Biden Administration extended protection status for 150,000 Haitians that resided within the US border. Currently, the United States holds the largest Haitian immigrant population in the world with over 700,000 people on account of the lack of opportunity, security, and border leniency in other countries with proximity to Haiti. With that being said, this precedent mobilized Haitians to come to the United States despite not qualifying for the statuses currently offered. Guerline M. Jozef stated that, “False information, misinformation, and misunderstanding might have created a false sense of hope.” Thus, we arrive at an awkward crossroad forcing these Haitian migrants to begin the long trek back to their homeland, their dreams of a better future vanquished.