WASHINGTON – The Biden administration announced Saturday it would begin deporting Haitians who have gathered thousands of people on the southern border last week quickly after entering the United States illegally.
The move is intended to alleviate the overflow in the border town of Del Rio, South Texas, and deter more Haitians from trying to come to the United States, a strategy that has attracted fierce criticism from human rights groups and the opposition. of some Democratic lawmakers.
The Biden administration has scheduled three flights for Sunday, and more could be scheduled for the next few days, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the evolving plans. The flights will go to Haiti, as well as to countries in South America where migrants have lived.
According to the plan, outlined by the Department of Homeland Security, the administration will “accelerate the pace and increase capacity” of withdrawal flights to Haiti and other destinations in the next 72 hours. Many details of the plan, such as the number of people on each flight or how people will be processed before being placed on a flight, were not immediately clear on Saturday.
The administration temporarily halted deportation flights to Haiti after the devastating August earthquake, which was followed by a powerful tropical storm after weeks of civil unrest. But the sudden wave of immigrant crossings over the past week has pushed him to change course.
The chaotic situation, with thousands of Haitians crossing the Rio Grande every day to reach American lands, has posed an urgent new challenge for the Biden administration, which has been struggling for months with an increasing number of unauthorized migrants at the border.
President Biden, who had pledged to take a more humanitarian approach to immigration than his predecessor, has been taking tough steps to try to curb the influx. But the administration said its plan to handle the large volume of Haitians was consistent with its enforcement policy.
“Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including deportation,” said Marsha Espinosa, deputy secretary of public affairs for the Department of Homeland Security. “Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and well-being of border communities and to the lives of migrants themselves and should not be attempted.”
More than 14,000 Haitians, many with mattresses, fruit, diapers and blankets, have crossed the river to the ankle between Mexico and Del Rio and camped under a bridge waiting to be prosecuted by the U.S. Border Patrol. Some are looking for work in the United States and others are fleeing violence or racial discrimination in other countries.
To ease the pressure on resources, the Department of Homeland Security said it had sent 400 agents to the Del Rio area and would send additional personnel if needed.
The assassination of the president of Haiti
He said he was also transferring migrants to other parts of the border that are currently less overflowing than Del Rio, a city of about 35,000 people surrounded mainly by livestock land, thorny bushes and mosquito trees that is about 150 kilometers to the east. west of San Antonio.
Many of the migrants have arrived after months of land travel from Brazil and Chile, where they had been granted permission to reside after an earthquake devastated the country in 2010. The economies of these countries have been attacked by the coronavirus pandemic.
Others have headed to the border after traveling directly to Mexico days or months ago from Haiti.
The resumption of flights back to Haiti comes when the Biden administration appeals a court ruling stopping Trump’s era policy of blocking the entry of migrant families into the United States, a policy that has long been criticized. time for immigration and human rights advocates, and even Vice President Kamala Harris when she was a senator.
“This administration has talked a big game about the need for a human asylum system,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union and leader of the litigation challenging the public health policy known as Title 42. “It is horrible that the administration sends a general message indicating that the border is closed without acknowledging that asylum seekers have no choice but to flee and seek security.”
Eileen Sullivan reported from Washington, i Miriam Jordan of Los Angeles.