U.S. To Continue Cruel Treatment of Haitian Refugees—But Not on Horseback

“The horse patrols aren’t the point. Democrats promised a different sort of immigration policy than what former President Donald Trump offered. But with a few tweaks around the margins, the Biden administration has continued—or even expanded—its predecessor’s policies.

It gets away with this in part because of symbiotic bullshitting between the Biden administration and the people opposed to it. The latter really want their base to think that Democrats are ushering in “open borders” and an influx of scary criminal immigrants, so they rant and rave as if President Joe Biden isn’t just largely continuing Trump policies. And since Democrats don’t want to seem like Trump 2.0 on immigration, both teams of bullshit artistry benefit.”

“The administration’s tone-deaf response? To announce that border patrol agents would stop riding horses, for now.

“We have ceased the use of the horse patrol in Del Rio temporarily,” a Department of Homeland Security official told reporters on Thursday.

They’ll still be capturing and sending home asylum seekers on sight. In fact, they’ll be doing more of it. But by foot! Or by truck! Not on a horse! Doesn’t that make you feel better about our government rounding up migrants, chaining them, and shipping them back to their countries of origin without so much as a chance to plead their case for a better life here?”

The Texas GOP sees Haitian migrants in crisis as a political opportunity

“This is not the first time Abbott has sought to falsely portray a group of migrants at the border as a public safety threat in order to rile up anti-immigrant attitudes among his base.

Just in the last few months, he issued an executive order allowing public safety officers to stop and reroute vehicles suspected of transporting migrants with Covid-19, though the measure has been blocked in federal court for now.

He has told Texas child care regulators to revoke the licenses of facilities that house migrant children and state troopers to jail migrants for state crimes, such as trespassing on private property when they cross the border.

And he is trying to finish the wall along the Texas border, pledging a $250 million “down payment” drawn from state disaster relief funds — money that could have gone to the aid of those still recovering from last winter’s storms or struggling under the burden of the pandemic. And he’s crowdfunded almost another $500,000 as of June 23. (Though that’s still a drop in the bucket of what he might need to finish the project, which the federal government estimated could cost as much as $46 million per mile in some sectors of the border.)

He has also played no small part in creating the false perception that migrants crossing the border are the source of his state’s coronavirus surge, which is spreading largely among the unvaccinated and leaving hospitals without enough ICU beds.”

“Despite promises to institute a more humane immigration policy, the Biden administration has clung to pandemic-related border restrictions, known as the Title 42 policy, implemented by the Trump administration last year. Since March 2020, that policy has been used to rapidly expel more than a million migrants, without hearings before an immigration judge. (A federal judge partially blocked the policy, effective September 30, and the Biden administration has appealed that decision.)

Biden is also restarting Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, under which tens of thousands of migrants were forced to wait in Mexico for their court hearings in the US, and he has resumed rapidly deporting families at the US-Mexico border. All the while, his message to migrants has been “don’t come,” even though many of them are fleeing unlivable conditions, not unlike those Afghan refugees are running from — problems ranging from gang violence to climate-related devastation.

Toward Haitians specifically, Biden’s policies have appeared inconsistent. He has allowed more than 100,000 Haitians already living in the US to apply for Temporary Protected Status. But at the same time, he has continued to prevent Haitians waiting on the other side of the US-Mexico border from entering under Title 42 and, to the shock of immigrant advocates, resumed deportation flights to Haiti on Wednesday despite the country’s continuing turmoil.

Mexico has recently started refusing to take Haitians expelled under Title 42. That’s why Haitians stranded in Del Rio are slowly being processed by US immigration authorities and allowed to enter the US, where most will likely be released with instructions to appear for an immigration court hearing at a later date.

But if Biden had it his way, they wouldn’t be allowed to cross at all.”

Biden’s immigration policy is hampering Haiti’s recovery from back-to-back crises

“Already grappling with coronavirus, a political crisis stemming from President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination last month and resulting gang violence, Haiti was hit with a two-punch 7.2-magnitude earthquake and tropical depression this week, leaving almost 2,000 dead and thousands more injured or missing.

Thousands are without shelter because some 83,000 homes have been destroyed. International aid has been slow to arrive, delayed by Tropical Storm Grace’s heavy rains, and some Haitians are frustrated that their own government hasn’t done enough to help.

Also of little help has been the United States, one of the contributors to Haiti’s political and economic troubles, which has the ability to aid Haitians attempting to flee the country due to its three most recent crises, but has instead prevented them from accessing the protection to which many of them are entitled.

The Biden administration has sent a search and rescue team to the island and is transporting medical personnel to the most hard-hit areas and carrying out evacuations. It is also distributing much-needed supplies, such as food, hygiene kits, and tents.

But the administration is still turning away Haitians who have chosen to flee in light of recent events. Thousands of Haitians are still stuck in Mexico on account of US policies, which currently allow asylum seekers and other migrants to be turned away on the basis of pandemic-related border restrictions, known as the Title 42 policy.

Many more Haitians may seek entry: Though it’s hard to estimate how many, the Darién Gap, a treacherous stretch of jungle and swamp on the border of Panama and Colombia that has functioned as a migrant corridor, has seen more crossings this year — at least 46,000 — than it has in the previous three years combined, and most of those attempting to navigate it are Haitians and Cubans.

The Biden administration has allowed more than 100,000 Haitians who arrived in the US before July 29, 2021, to apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is typically offered to citizens of countries suffering from natural disasters or armed conflict. Those people are able to live and work in the US free of fear of deportation.

But that doesn’t help those who might be continuing to leave the country due to the political fallout from Moïse’s July 7 assassination, or now, in the aftermath of Saturday’s earthquake. What’s more, Haitians who have been prohibited from entering the US under Title 42, for which experts say there is no public health justification, appear indefinitely trapped in Mexico. And the US has continued to carry out deportation flights of Haitians despite the turmoil.

At the same time, the Biden administration has discouraged Haitians, as well as Cubans fleeing their communist regime’s recent crackdown on anti-government protesters, from trying to reach the US by boat. Officials have made clear that those who try will be intercepted by the US Coast Guard and will not be permitted to enter the US. Instead, they will either be repatriated back to Haiti or, if they can demonstrate the need for humanitarian protection, resettled in another country.”

How Hope, Fear and Misinformation Led Thousands of Haitians to the U.S. Border

““False information, misinformation and misunderstanding might have created a false sense of hope,” said Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, an organization that works with migrants.

Biden’s term has coincided with a sharp deterioration in the political and economic stability of Haiti, leaving parts of its capital under the control of gangs and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. The assassination of Haiti’s president and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake this summer have only added to the pressures causing people to leave the country. Shortly after the assassination, hundreds of Haitians flocked to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, many carrying packed suitcases and small children, after false rumors spread on social media that the Biden administration was handing out humanitarian visas to Haitians in need.

Most of the Haitians in Mexico — a country that has intercepted nearly 4,000 this year — were not coming directly from Haiti, but from South America, where, like Mackenson, they had already been living and working, according to a top official in the Mexican foreign ministry. The number of Haitians heading northward across the border that separates Colombia and Panama — often by traversing the treacherous jungle known as the Darién Gap — has also surged in recent years, increasing from just 420 in 2018 to more than 42,300 through August of this year, according to the Panamanian government.

“We are dealing with this really new type of migration, which are these Haitians coming from mainly Brazil and Chile,” said Roberto Velasco, chief officer for North America at Mexico’s foreign ministry. “They are mainly looking for jobs. They come from third countries, so repatriation is difficult.”

Following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of Haitians headed southward to Chile and Brazil in search of jobs in two of South America’s richest countries. To get there, many undertook an arduous overland journey across the continent through the Amazon and the Andes.

Many were offered humanitarian visas in both nations, which needed low-wage workers, but that welcoming stance withered as economic instability in the region rose in tandem with a growing backlash toward immigrants.”

Biden is turning back Haitian migrants at sea, echoing a shameful chapter in US history

“The US could soon be facing dual migrant crises stemming from unrest in Haiti and Cuba. In response, the Biden administration has preemptively warned migrants not to try to come to the US by boat.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently confirmed that any migrants intercepted by the US Coast Guard off US shores will not be allowed to enter the country — they will be turned back or, if they express fear of returning to their home countries, repatriated to a third country.

“The time is never right to attempt migration by sea,” Mayorkas said in a press conference earlier this month. “To those who risk their lives doing so, this risk is not worth taking. Allow me to be clear: If you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States.”

The policy isn’t new. Past administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have employed this interdiction approach to prevent Caribbean migrants from reaching US shores. But although it was always done under the pretense of protecting migrants from the very real dangers of that journey, it resulted in many Haitians being returned to certain peril in their home country over the years and, under the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, languishing in what one federal judge called a “prison camp” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were held after being intercepted at sea.”

“The vast majority of migrants who passed through Guantanamo were returned to Haiti. A much smaller percentage were able to be paroled into the United States because they passed their asylum interviews.”

Don’t Ask U.S. Troops To Solve Haiti’s Problems

“Outside of buttressing a U.S. Marine detail to protect the U.S. Embassy, the Biden administration is wary, if not outright opposed, to Haiti’s request for a U.S. troop deployment. While the prospect of thousands of Haitians fleeing to the United States can’t be ruled out if the situation further deteriorates, President Joe Biden is right to reject the Haitian government’s request. The last thing Washington needs is yet another ill-advised, reactive military intervention in a de facto failed state—particularly at a time when the White House appears intent on extricating U.S. forces from wars that have cost too much, have gone on for too long, and have had next to no return.

Even before Moïse’s late-night assassination, Haiti was in the midst of extreme political and economic turmoil. The nation of 12 million people has been without a functioning parliament for a year and a half. Due to the absence of a legislature, the entire government has operated by decree. Approximately 30 gangs control a large area of Port-au-Prince; thousands of Haitians have fled their neighborhoods from intergang violence. René Sylvestre, the head of Haiti’s Supreme Court, passed away from COVID-19, a virus that is ravaging the broader population.

Moïse’s killing has taken this dire situation and turned it into a catastrophe. Today, there are three separate Haitian politicians claiming to be Moïse’s successor, a political contest for power bearing the markings of a serious confrontation. One of Haiti’s powerful gang bosses is readying his own troops for action, claiming the assassination was a large foreign-orchestrated conspiracy against the Haitian population. The police, corrupt and riven by schisms, aren’t exactly in a position to quell any violence that may erupt.

The U.S. military, however, isn’t in a position to do so either. In fact, it’s questionable whether foreign troops in any capacity would have the resources, patience, and fortitude to save Haitians from the depravity of their own politicians. There was a time not so long ago when United Nations peacekeepers were authorized to return democracy to the island during yet another fractious period in its history—the forced exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That U.N.-authorized peacekeeping mission would last for more than 15 years, and the result was anything but the peace, democracy, and stability Washington and its partners on the Security Council hoped to accomplish. Instead, Haiti’s problems arguably multiplied. The mission was not only implicated in human rights abuses, but brought a deadly cholera epidemic to the country which killed upward of 10,000 people.

The U.S. military has some experience in Haiti as well. In 1994, 25,000 U.S. troops were sent to the island in a mission code-named Operation Uphold Democracy, a deployment designed to restore the democratically elected government to power after being ousted in a military coup three years earlier. While the mission succeeded in ridding the military junta from the capital and negotiating the exile of the coup’s architect (Lt. Gen. Raoul Cédras), one can hardly call it a long-term success given Haiti’s current circumstances.”

“To task U.S. troops with political missions is to saddle them with responsibilities they can’t reasonably be expected to meet, all the while providing the host government with the cover to continue business as usual. Whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Haiti, deployments like these create more problems than they solve, shift the ultimate responsibility for fixing them onto the backs of U.S. soldiers, and can easily expand from months to years.”

What the assassination of Haiti’s president means for US foreign policy

“Moise himself had a tumultuous presidency beginning in 2017, marked by authoritarian tactics and inability to gain the Haitian people’s trust. Soon after he was elected, Moise revived the nation’s army, disbanded two decades before. This was a controversial decision in a country still dealing with the aftermath of its catastrophic 2010 earthquake, stoking fears that the army would drain already limited resources. Further skepticism came from the army’s history of human rights abuses and the multiple coups it had carried out. The decision to bring the army back set the tone for Moise’s presidency, as he continuously prioritized his interests and power over those of the people. In the absence of a functioning legislature, Haitian law allows the president to rule by decree, and in January 2020, Moise refused to hold parliamentary elections and dismissed all of the country’s elected mayors, consolidating his power.

Further exacerbating problems, in February, Moise refused to leave office despite legal experts and members of an opposition coalition claiming that his term ended on February 7. Moise claimed that his presidency was meant to last until 2022, due to a delay in his inauguration after the 2017 election, and his refusal to step down led to mass anger and frustration culminating in public protests and chants of “no to dictatorship.”

While the identity of the killers has not been confirmed, speculation seems to be determined by party alignment. Moise supporters have stated that he was shot by a predominantly Colombian group of hitmen, while some opposition politicians claim that he was killed by his own guards. Others have said that the Colombians were hired as personal guards to protect Moise from external threats. Fifteen Colombian suspects are currently in custody along with two Haitian-American suspects, and others are still believed to be at large.”