The humanitarian crisis next door


Danielle O’Brien, Editor

Within the past month the United States has seen an increased number of migrants at the Texan border from Haiti following Haiti’s 7.2 earthquakes in August and the assassination of their president in July. Nevertheless, the manner in which the issue has been addressed raises concerns about the message America is putting forth about who is welcome in the U.S.

More than 15,000 migrants, especially Haitians, had started camping since September just beside the border in Del Rio, Texas as they waited for their asylum petitions to be processed. 12,000 of those migrants were admitted into the U.S. to have had petitions evaluated while two thousand were deported back to Haiti, according to the Department of Homeland Security. 

Of those two thousand migrants deported back to Haiti, several of them hadn’t lived in their home country for over a decade but rightly belonged to countries such as Chile, Brazil, and Panama where they had built lives for themselves. They, too, had ventured north to the U.S. looking for opportunity or to be reunited with their families, but instead found themselves deported without question of their real homes or of how they would get there after their plane landed in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. According to NPR, many migrants describe that they were misled to believe by U.S. border agents that the plane they we’re taking would relocate them to Florida. It was only until they stepped foot in the Port-Au-Prince airport in Haiti that they realized they had been deported.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security stated on Sept. 8 that the United States extended the protection for Haitians who had arrived before July 29 to receive temporary asylum, while those who arrived after were not covered. 

As stated by Mayorkas, “We are very concerned that Haitians who are taking this irregular migration path are receiving false information that the border is open or that temporary protected status is available… I want to make sure that it is known that this is not the way to come to the United States. Trying to enter the United States illegally is not worth the tragedy, the money or the effort”.

But what Mayorkas fails to describe in his statement is what exactly is the right way to come to the U.S. There is a specific source from which comes the misinformation on the proper way to come to the U.S . During the Trump administration, those seeking a life in the U.S. were instructed to wait in Mexico for a court date to review their case through the “Remain in Mexico Policy”. And since this policy was deemed a violation of International Law by the Supreme Court, there has not been a clear path put forth by the current administration concerning how to apply for asylum within the U.S.

It was only after the deportation of thousands of Haitain migrants that the Department of Homeland Security announced its cancellation of the border wall contracts, angering Republican counterparts who remark that this will not solve the crisis the U.S. is experiencing at its border.

The Biden Administration’s reputation remains up in the air with approval ratings further demonstrating this, part of the cause being the administration’s handling of the border, criticism coming from both sides of the political spectrum. 

In September, after the Taliban took over Afghanistan following the evacuation of U.S. troops, over 65,000 Afghans were evacuated from the country. The U.S. was quick in aiding those in peril in Afghanistan to act as a sanctuary. Thus this hypocritical response raises the question: why does Haiti differ? With Haiti’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake which hit the country this last August, one of the worst earthquakes in Haitian history, as well as the political turbulence Haiti has experienced following the assassination of President Moise this past July, what other country perfectly meets the “asylum seeker” qualifications than Haiti? Does America pick and choose who they will give asylum to and if so how? Disturbing images of Haitians being corralled by border patrol agents on horseback may describe the difference in which the U.S treats its neighbors. The long reins of the photo below captured by Paul Ratje can easily be mistaken for that of whips. Ratje makes it clear, “I’ve never seen them whip anyone,” Ratje said. “He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture”. Nevertheless, this controversial photo has sparked investigation by the Department of Homeland Security into possible misconduct by border patrol agents against migrants refugees. As of October 27th, a suspension of the usage of horses at the border has been put in place as the investigation by the DHS remains ongoing of whether said reins were weaponized against refugees.

The disturbing image of using whips which the picture below may resemble has shocked many Americans at first glance, reminding them of a dark time in American history.

DHS chief Alejandro Mayorkas pushes back on Haitian migrant abuse claims -  R6Nationals
PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

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