(Trends Wide) — Thousands of Haitian migrants have reached the US-Mexico border seeking to cross the Rio Grande and find refuge in the United States.
Conservative lawmakers accuse the Biden administration of failing to prevent another crisis at the border, and haunting images from the massive migrant camp in Del Rio, Texas, support that idea. At the same time, human rights activists condemn the images of US border agents, mounted on horseback, trying to drive away migrants almost as if they were herding cattle.
It is complicated how Haitian migrants, eventual refugees fleeing an island nation shaken by political instability and economic depression, converged at the same time at the US-Mexico border in a specific location in Texas. So is the question of what will happen to them next.
What is happening now:
- More than 10,000 Haitians converged in recent days near Del Río, Texas, and have tried to enter the U.S., creating a massive migrant camp under an airlift between Coahuila, Mexico, and Del Río, while they wait to gain access. .
- Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, promised that the United States will clear the camp in the coming days.
- Traffic between the United States and Mexico has been disrupted, affecting life in those towns.
- Border agents on horseback who were filmed using aggressive tactics generated pushback. Mayorkas said on Trends Wide that he was “horrified” by the images.
- The governor of Texas ordered the creation of a border wall several kilometers long with parked vehicles.
- The Biden administration is using a Trump-era covid policy to bring thousands of Haitians back to Port-au-Prince after days of detaining them in the US, causing chaos at the Haitian airport.
- Trends Wide has witnessed how some Haitians were taken across the border and allowed into the country.
- DHS has also been moving thousands of migrants from Del Rio to other sites for processing.
How big is this increase?
The numbers are incredible; the number of migrants increased from about 400 to a maximum of 14,000 in days.
More could be on the way according to Trends Wide’s Priscilla Alvarez, who writes: There are as many as 30,000 Haitians in Colombia who may be looking to travel north, Trends Wide has learned. The department is tracking between 40,000 and 60,000 Haitians in the hemisphere, although they are not necessarily looking to come to the United States, according to a congressional aide. Recently, Mexico also stopped some Haitian buses heading north, DHS said, according to the aide.
Why do Haitians, specifically, come to the US border?
In May, Mayorkas announced an 18-month temporary protected status for Haitians already residing in the US, which now applies to Haitians in the country as of July 29. Mayorkas had cited “security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty and a lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic.” And that spring announcement was before the president of Haiti was assassinated and an earthquake struck during the summer.
Many of those arriving at the US border had now left Haiti long ago and were living or staying in other Central and South American countries, from Guatemala to Chile.
Trends Wide spoke with 26-year-old Jameson Tilus. He fled Haiti years ago after he was robbed at his home and shot at his aunt.
In Chile since 2015, he wants to join his brother, uncle and cousins, who are in the United States. Friends told their family that the border was open in Del Rio, so Tilus, his wife, 5-year-old daughter, and 3-year-old son began the two-month journey there.
“I’m 26 years old and I don’t have a profession,” Tilus said, his voice cracking. “I was doing very badly, I wanted a better life.”
What is the US plan?
Here’s what Mayorkas told lawmakers after visiting the border on Monday:
“The plan we have is a multi-part plan.
- First, address the root causes of irregular migration.
- Second, ensure that there are humane pathways so that people do not have to undertake the dangerous journey to apply for asylum in order for our laws passed by Congress to be recognized.
- And third, rebuilding our asylum system here in the United States. “
What are the critics saying?
Patrice Lawrence leads the UndocuBlack group, which advocates for undocumented blacks in the United States. She writes for Trends Wide that the Biden administration should distinguish itself from the Trump administration and allow for a more orderly asylum process rather than sending Haitians back to Haiti.
“The Biden administration could have made a strong statement in favor of due process and dignity by allowing an orderly asylum process. Instead, it has opted for mass expulsions of vulnerable people.”
On the other side of the spectrum is the Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and his wall of police cars.
“When you have an administration that is not enforcing the law in this country, when you have an administration that has abandoned any pretense of securing the border and ensuring our sovereignty, you see the avalanche of people like the one we saw crossing this dam that is right behind from me, “Abbott said at a news conference in Val Verde County.