(Trends Wide) — About 4,600 Haitians have left the United States on repatriation flights from Texas to Haiti since Sept. 19, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman told Trends Wide on Wednesday.
The Joe Biden administration has relied on a Trump-era public health rule, known as Title 42, to swiftly evict migrants who made it to the U.S.-Mexico border, including Haitians who crowded under the Del Rio International Bridge this month.
The Department of Homeland Security has conducted repatriation flights to Haiti on a regular basis. Since Sept. 19, it has made 43 flights departing from Del Rio.
Thousands of migrants, many of them Haitians, had gathered in the makeshift camp under the bridge in Del Rio waiting for immigration authorities to process them.
They criticize the US decision to expel Haitians and the government defends itself
DHS rushed to vacate the camp and the last remaining migrants left the temporary site on Friday. Some were transferred to US Customs and Border Protection processing centers, several thousand were released in the United States, and others were flown back to Haiti.
Many of the Haitians who camped in Del Rio are believed to have been living in South America since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, but fled as jobs dried up in the region.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, cited the economic cost of the pandemic as a factor that contributed to the increase in migrants in recent months and defended continuing to use Title 42 to quickly expel those who arrive.
“The fact is that – this is not specific to the Haitian diaspora – the world is still recovering from a pandemic. And the decline in economies has caused more people to leave their homes,” Mayorkas said Monday during the Annual Conference on Immigration Law and Policy.
Years after leaving, Haitians who made it to the southern border of the United States are now being returned to a country facing political instability following the assassination of the president in August and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the same month that left more than 2,000 dead.
Immigrant advocates and Democratic lawmakers have criticized the repatriation flights and urged the government to stop sending Haitian migrants to a country facing a humanitarian crisis.
Last week, Daniel Foote, the United States special envoy for Haiti, surrendered his resignation to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, saying that “it will not be associated with the inhumane and counterproductive decision of the United States to deport thousands of Haitian refugees.” from the United States border with Mexico. He added that the US policy approach to Haiti remains “deeply flawed.”
But high-ranking government officials, including Mayorkas, have defended their decision, arguing that they studied the conditions and determined that the migrants could be sent back.
Trends Wide’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.